The Swift Current Broncos got exactly what they were looking for out of the CHL Import Draft today. When Coach Lamb and did our hour-long post-season podcast in March he said that they were hoping to nab a potential starting goaltender in the import draft.
As we got closer and closer to the draft he wasn’t putting as much focus on that. Perhaps because he realized there weren’t many goalies that would fit into the top 6 and there was a good chance someone else would nab the guy he wanted. Instead things went exactly as Lamb would have hoped and Steffen Søberg is now a Bronco.
I got both Lamb and Søberg on the phone within minutes of the selection…
Søberg is an impressive selection for the Broncos. Washington made him their first pick of the NHL Draft (4th round) on Saturday. Their management team has shown very good judgment when it comes to young goaltenders. Has anyone had more good goalie prospects than the Caps over the last half decade?
Søberg also earned the honour of playing for his country at both the U18 tournament and the World Junior Championship. He was one of the rare 17-year-old goaltenders suiting up for their country at that tournament. Norway struggled in both tournaments, but Soberg was a star. He managed a 0.913 save percentage against the best U20 players in the world over Christmas and then put up a 0.931 save percentage at the U18 tournament. He was also named player of the game for Norway in 4 of 6 of their U18 games.
He played most of the regular season against men for Manglerud in Norway’s top league. His playing time got cut down in the second half because the national team goaltender joined their roster. This move gives Søberg a chance to earn the starting job and play big minutes while working with the Washington staff. Apparently he will have regular sessions with Washington’s goalie coach while he’s in Swift.
The Capitals have had some success dealing with the Broncos before. They obviously like what they see out of Cody Eakin and are now seemingly playing a part in sending their top draft pick this year to the Credit Union i-Plex. Every indication is that Søberg should be fun to watch. He’s smaller but athletic. A reflex goalie? That could mean some highlight reel saves.
The competition at camp should be quite interesting now as well. Søberg would have to be the odds on favourite to land the #1 job. Does that mean all of Austin Smith, Derek Tendler and Steven Myland will be battling it out for the back-up job? Could there be a push from someone like Landon Bow as well? There is a lot on the line for each of the goalies coming to camp.
Here are some links on Søberg:
- Elite Prospects Stats
- Washington Post Blog
- Washington Times Article
- Rink Rebel Blog Post
- Interview with Hockey’s Future
- Pictures from the World Juniors
- Swift Current Online Article
- Official Broncos Press Release
One thing about selecting Søberg is that he will likely be playing for Norway at the World Juniors in each of the next two seasons. Losing a goalie to the tournament requires some creative management at times. It is also a very valuable experience for the young man that he will bring back to the Broncos when he returns from the tournament.
The quotes from International Scouting Services are very promising. They called him without a doubt the best goaltender at the U18 tournament and described his play as “simply astounding.” That is not faint praise.
It will really help his transition that Søberg speaks good english. His mother is American so he has a strong grasp on the language already. We’ve seen what that barrier can do to some imports.
The bottom line now? The Broncos went from having no NHL drafted players at the end of the season March to having four of them now. They say championships are built from the goal on out. Swift Current has three of their four NHL draft picks in either goal or on the blue line. They should be a harder team to score on next season.
Speaking of next season the Broncos and the WHL released the 2011-2012 schedule today. The season gets started with a home and home against Regina. We can only hope that series goes a little better for Swift Current than it did last season! Bronco fans will get a chance to check out the BC division teams at the Credit Union i-Plex this season while I’m looking forward to making my first trip to the US division in late November.
We’re only 85 days away from the start of the regular season. It will be here before you know it!