February 2, 2010
Sjostrom could fast track in T.O.
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
Given that he knows only one speed, Fredrik Sjostrom figures he would be best-served to throttle down in his Maple Leafs debut Tuesday night.
But the big forward who came to Toronto from Calgary along with star defenceman Dion Phaneuf figures it's a futile idea.
"Obviously I'm going to be pumped up," Sjostrom said yesterday through a gaping smile courtesy of a handful of missing teeth from a recent hit. "You almost have to keep your emotions in check, but I'm going to just go with it."
The prevalent suggestion is that Sjostrom will be an important addition to the Leafs' flagging penalty-killing unit, but coach Ron Wilson is looking for more.
Calling the former first-rounder (11th overall by Phoenix in 2001) "the fastest guy on our team without a doubt," Wilson wouldn't mind seeing some goals from the Swede, who had a career-high 10 with the Coyotes two seasons ago.
"He's going to get a lot more opportunity right now with the situation up front than he has probably seen in a long time," Wilson said.
"He can, if given the opportunity, but the puck in the net."
In his first practice as a Leaf, Sjostrom was on a line with fellow Swede Rickard Wallin at centre and Nikolai Kulemin on the other wing.
"The first thing you notice is how fast he is, he can really skate," Wallin said of his compatriot. "But he's got some skills, too. He was a good scorer in junior. Hopefully he can prove that here, too."
Sjostrom also would like to show the versatility that caught the eye of the Coyotes, namely his 34 goals in his final season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.
"I take pride in being good on the penalty kill, but I would like to be a good two-way player and be good at both ends of the ice," Sjostrom said.
"This is an important stage for me, personally, to come in here and make a mark right away."