• SHL Hockey- Season 2018/9 Preview

SHL Hockey- Season 2018/9 Preview

This weekend sees the start of the SHL, but who will will win the Le Mat Trophy? Here's your preview of the up and coming season.

It's always a safe bet to go for Frölunda Indians and Skellefteå AIK in the top places in the SHL. My reasoning for that this year is that they both have very stable teams and managers. Of course, they've lost a few players to the NHL, not least number one draft choice, Rasmus Dahlin, from Frölunda to Buffalo Sabres. But both are able to retain and recruit such talented players that means, for me, they are the strongest teams this year.

Djurgarden IF, Växjö Lakers, Brynäs IF, Farjestad BK, Malmö Redhawks and Timrå IK have all dropped significant players and I can't see any of them doing as well as last year. But I placed Djurgarden top of this group as they signed the talented Dick Axelsson from Farjestad and Jakob Lilja from Linköping HC, who are game changing goal scorers.

HV71 and Örebro HK are my 'dark horses' for the championship. HV71 have a totally new squad compared to last year. That includes the return to Sweden of 30 year old Andreas Thuresson (above, in Malmö Redhawks colours). He has a c. 0.5 Points Per Game from more than 650 games in an 11 year career in the SHL, KHL and the AHL. By my reckoning one of the best signings of the pre-season.

At the same time someone on the board at Örebro HK has decided that they no longer want to be a team that only just manages to survive in the top division each year. The cheque book has come out for a number of high scoring talents, not least former Brynäs forward, American Aaron Palushaj. Both these teams have the potential to pull off amazing success or completely implode - only time will tell.

At the bottom I think the teams that have come up from the Hockey Allsvenskan in recent years will struggle. For example, both Rögle BK and Mora IF have lost their top scorers from last year. But my biggest concern is for newly promoted Timrå IK. They have lost their top three points scorers as well as their goalkeeper from last year's successful team.

PLACES 1-6

1. Frölunda Indians

2. Skellefteå AIK

3. HV71

4. Djurgården IF

5. Växjö Lakers

6. Örebro HK

PLACES 7-10

7. Linköping HC

8. Brynäs IF

9. Farjestad BK

10. Malmö Redhawks

PLACES 11-14

11. Rögle BK

12. Luleå HF

13. Mora IF

14. Timrå IK

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