The trouble with the Edmonton Oilers' fans craving content about the Swedish stars the Oilers currently have signed, or hope to sign, is that most content about those players is written in Swedish while the players are matriculating in their homeland.
The Swedish media broke the news that the Oilers signed prospect Anton Lander before the North American media had even a clue, though given the timezone differences, it wasn't a journalistic coup. So it's not surprising that there are some interesting interviews and articles written in Swedish that those of us who do not speak the language may miss. Google translator has it's limitations and this has become more and more apparent as the frequency with which we attempt to use it increases.
As a treat for one and all, Copper and Blue has a few readers that are learned in the Swedish tongue and have agreed to translate some of the news we're not able to accurately report. The following is a translation by Lance McFadzen of an original article written by Gunnar Nordström, the man who covers the NHL for Expressen.se. The text is a figurative translation, as Lance says "I'm not bringing it over word for word, but taking across the overall intended meaning of the author. Sports writing is the realm of the cliché, so literal transcription would sound very odd indeed." The train comments from the first Expressen.se article are a striking example of a Swedish idiom not translating well.
Edmonton gave Lander the maximum contract.
Anton Lander was drafted by the Oilers in the 2nd round of the 2009 NHL draft.
He was the 40th overall pick that year.
But now he has a contract worthy of a first round pick.
I don't believe that has happened before, said Lander's agent Claes Elefalk of CAA Sports in Stockholm.
It pays $900 000/year for three seasons. Actually, he gets $810K/year with an annual $90K signing bonus for the length of the contract.
And this is why Edmonton wants Lander now.
Anton Lander is an Edmonton Oiler now.
In my eyes, he was already that before Christmas. That's when I met Oilers GM Steve Tambellini in LA for a match between the Kings and Oilers.
"We believe that Lander is ready for the NHL and we are going to offer him a contract. We are in a youth movement right now, and we're building a new team, and we have a place for him if he decides to take on an NHL career," said Tambellini.
I held onto that information for some weeks until I was in Buffalo for the WJHC and could hear Lander's reaction to the Oiler boss' comments.
We were sitting in the lobby of the Swedish team's hotel, Adam's Mark, and I could see how Lander picked up when I told him what Tambellini said.
"Flattering. He really said that?" asked Lander.
He continued to say all the things he's supposed to say, that right now the only thing that counted was the World Juniors and then he had some important months ahead of him with Timrå in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Only then he would think about his decision for an eventual move to Edmonton.
But I could see right there in that hotel lobby that in his mind, this young man had already packed his bags. Right there and then, he made his decision. He was going to the NHL.
Lander is a slick, two-way center. A leader. He had a good WJHC, but not as good as he could have been.
Talking with him later on, I understood he felt that way too. He had more to give, but couldn't quite find the way.
The timing (I love the Svenglish word Nordström uses here for timing - "tajming") for his arrival in Edmonton couldn't be better. He's coming to a team with three young, talented wingers in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Pääjärvi, plus the crafty Linus Omark.
Now the team has a young, coachable center in the same age group with Lander, and now the race is on.
Shall we guess the next piece of the puzzle will be a highly touted defenseman in the June draft? Why not Adam Larsson?
It is interesting to see those Steve Tambellini quotes given in English, translated to Swedish then translated back to English. Hopefully they are fairly close to their original content and context. Tambellini has recently given interviews with Edmonton media expressing his interest that his prospects take the next step in their hockey development, so these comments don't seem too far fetched.