Okay, it’s not one line, but here’s my “best of the rest” review of the squads who I believe will finish the year in the bottom half of the table:
Another year, yet another re-vamp and now they only have four players left in the squad from their 2016 Swedish championship win. For example, Simon Örerud (above) remains and whilst they've again bought in some talented individuals they need to become a team to win. And with mass change of personnel again I cannot see them reaching an automatic playoff place.
8. Rögle BK
Last year they took the jump up from a SHL survivor to being a playoff team. I think they will improve on their best ever ninth place. The team is almost unchanged from last year but with new keepers who have never played in the SHL. But the additions of Dennis Everberg and German 2018 St Louis Blues drafted, Dominik Bokk might give them a bit more presence in front of goal.
9. Djurgården IF
One of the strongest teams in the last few years has lost in 2018/9 Honken Trophy winner Adam Reideborn. And I believe that they will be severely hindered in their attack minded approach without him to keep the scores low at the back. Not only that but they have lost the Davidsson brothers and the top three scorers in Jakob Lilja, Emil Bemström and Daniel Brodin. This triple massed 107 points between them. Perhaps ninth is a bit low, but I cannot see them performing as they did with the replacements that they have brought into the current lineup.
10. Linköping HC
Genuinely worried for my club Linköping who have had decreasingly good results in the last four seasons with last year's finish the worst in 16 years. The super talented NHL veteran Derek Roy, who scored nearly 1 PPG last year has left for Red Bull Munich. So now the responsibility rests on Andrew Gordon and Broc Little to produce at the top end of their capacity to carry the club as they did in 2015/6 season where they were both closer to 0.75 PPG and Linköping finished in third place. Possible, but not likely on current form.
11. Brynäs IF
Last year the team struggled and missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. And with the summer transfers they have lost their first choice keeper, Rautio, two of their best defenders, Ryan Gunderson (the team's top scorer last year) and Swedish international Simon Bertilsson as well as their top two highest scoring forwards in Joel Kellman and Jesper Boqvist. So, nothing seems to speak for a better performance than last year's disappointing 11th place.
12. Örebro HK
Last year’s attempt to break out of the bottom half of the table by buying in higher quality players ultimately failed, primarily when star Aaron Palushaj got injured. With the American gone to the NLA, this the team appears to have more modest ambitions. They have an almost completely new forward line featuring, Joonas Rask, the younger brother of Boston Bruins legendary keeper, Tuuka, and an interesting import signing, Ryan Stoa. The 32 year old played in the US Olympic team in 2018 over has 280 games experience in both the AHL and KHL. Can they creep up into the playoffs or will it be another year where they must be satisfied with not being in the relegation playoffs?
13. Leksand IF
A club with history and experience, but can they go one better and establish themselves in the top division rather than yo-yoing back and forth between the top two divisions as they have done over the last six years?
One of their top forwards, Johan Porsberger, who has been with the club for four years, has decided to stay in Allsvenskan rather than move up with the club and Tobias Forsberg sadly retires having become paralysed from the chest down after crashing head first into the sidewall.
A huge responsibility lies with the experienced players who have been brought in to the side, included NHL drafted pair of defenseman, Johan Fransson and forward Patrik Zackrisson. The duo have been signed on three year contracts to help establish the team in the top division. They played in Sweden's 2018 Olympic team and at 34 yrs and 32 yrs they are in the latter half of their career. But they will be joined by an interesting prospect in 28 yr old Slovenian Marek Hrivik, who has 350 games in the AHL as well as a handful of games for the New York Rangers on his CV. Nonetheless, I think it is going to be a long and painful year for the fans as they again adjust to the brutal reality of the SHL.
14. Oskarshamn IK
Their first ever season in the SHL in the club's history and they know full well that the transition will be tough. Many of the team remain, but sensibly they have signed up two new netminders, in NHL drafted and SHL regular, Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel and Tex Williamsson. I believe the time is right for the 28 year of from Småland to make the transition from being one of the best Allsvenskan keepers to the top division.
Niklas Hardt and Pontus Netterberg are also quality new signing who will be key players in this team but will they and a handful of DEL players be enough? Few think so, but everyone at the club knows the simple objective, they must survive this year in the SHL. It may simply come down to the last two hours of the season - they must win the playoff qualifier against the 2019/20 Allsvenskan winners.