It has been rumoured for weeks now that free agent defensive centre Samme Pahlsson, most recently of the Vancouver Canucks, would retire from NHL hockey and sign with Örnsköldsvik club team Modo of the Elitserien (SEL). According to Swedish sports journalist Jonatan Lindquist of Expressen, that deal looks to have been finalized. Says Lindquist:
Modo will hold a press conference tomorrow at 13:30 Swedish Time (4:30 AM PST). It’s expected that they will announce the signing of Samuel Pahlsson. Pahlsson has been open to the possibility of returning home, though Modo doensn’t normally hold Press Conferences when they sign players.
Nothing has been officially confirmed yet, but the fact that Modo rarely holds Press Conferences to announce player signings (even relatively big name players like Freddy Meyer and Rob Schremp) indicates that this is assuredly a press conference to introduce Samme Pahlsson. Pahlsson hails originally from Örnsköldsvik, began his professional career with Modo and has had a decorated professional career: winning a Stanley Cup in 2007 and an Olympic Gold Medal in 2006 with the Tre Kronor.
Samme Pahlsson was acquired by the Canucks from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2011 trade deadline in exchange for a couple of mid-round picks, and former second round pick Taylor Ellington. The former Stanley Cup winner played on the teams third line, and proved to be an effective depth option through the balance of the regular season for Vancouver.
Going into the postseason, it looked like Pahlsson would be sufficiently competent against the opposition’s top-lines to allow Alain Vigneault to deploy his forwards in the unique way that he prefers. It was a nice theory, but one that didn’t quite play out. Frankly, Pahlsson and his most regular linemates Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen got their teeth-kicked in, both in possession and scoring chances, by the Kings dominant first line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams.
Despite the clear evidence that the matchup wasn’t working for the Canucks, Alain Vigneault stubbornly stuck with Pahlsson’s unit as the primary matchup for the Kopitar line throughout the series (with the exception of game 3, in which Kesler’s line drew that assignment). By the end of the series it seemed like Vigneault didn’t trust the 34 year old centre with defensive zone draws.
While the usually stingy Pahlsson was ventilated in the 2011 postseason, In fairness to the Swedish defensive ace, many of the best defensive centremen in the league, including: Martin Hanzal, Antoine Vermette and Selke nominee David Backes, proved unable to contain the Kings top-line.
Samme Pahlsson is the latest in a long line of players to have played both with Modo and the Vancouver Canucks. Former sniper, ring of honour honouree and Vancouver’s current head European scout Thomas Gradin began his professional career with Modo in the 70s, former Canucks captain Markus Naslund began his career with Modo (and is Modo’s current General Manager) in the late 80s, and the Sedin twins played for Modo in the late-90s before joining Vancouver’s club.
Now, Samme Pahlsson will go the other way. It’s not a stretch to imagine that Pahlsson has got enough in the tank to help a Modo club that only narrowly avoided relegation this past season.