September 14, 2010
An Olden but a goody
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
Sondre Olden will be flying home to Oslo soon, but the Maple Leafs are sure it won't be the last time the Norwegian sets foot on North American ice.
If there has been a mild surprise in three days of Toronto's rookie camp, it's the stringbean winger, who moves remarkably well for 6-foot-3.
"I'm surprised, too," Olden insisted after two starts at Toronto's rookie tournament. "The tempo is high and the players are good.
"I have okay speed, I just try and move the puck in the zone, dump it and go all the time. We will see what happens."
Toronto coach Dallas Eakins said Olden is justifying the risk Toronto took at the draft when it selected him 79th overall in June.
"Thommie Bergman, our Europen scout, thought very highly of Sondre and he talked (amateur scouting director) Dave Morrison and (general manager) Brian Burke into drafting him," Eakins said. "He has come in and played very, very well.
"With all young guys, you'll hear about getting stronger and faster, but he just turned 18 at the end of August and he's a really fair, skinny kid right now, But he does have the frame to put on some beef."
Only three players who were picked ahead of Olden weighed less than his 172 pounds. If he didn't know why the extra bulk was needed, Olden found out Sunday night when a number of scuffles broke out in the Toronto-Pittsburgh game. Olden seemed more amused than intimidated about taking a partner when the melees get going.
"I just try to take one guy and hold him off from the play." Olden said. "I'm not a fighter, but (the NHL style) is what I thought; a lot of hits and big guys, I just have to be stronger and bigger."
Olden estimates that Norway has perhaps 3,000 serious players, five who have popped up in NHL history. The New York Rangers signed the player considered the country's best prospect, the 5-foot-7 "Hobbit Wizard" Mats Zuccarello-Aasen.
Olden should get at least one NHL exhibition game start next week, but expects to return to the junior Swedish club team MoDo, crossing the border to play there last year to further his career in a better league. He had 27 points in 32 games.
"It's great to be here with the Leafs," Olden said. "More and more Norwegian players are making it and proving they can play in the NHL."