It has been reported today by News 1130 sports that Nicklas Jensen will look to play in the Swedish Elite League (Eliteserien) next season should he fail to make the Vancouver Canucks roster out of training camp.
CKWX has learned that #Canucks #1 draft pick Niklas Jensen will play in Sweden next year of he doesn’t make the Canucks.
— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) June 20, 2012
The 19 year old Danish winger, who led all Canucks prospects in NHLE goals with the Oshawa Generals last season, has apparently already informed his OHL club of his intentions, and is talking to three or four Swedish clubs about joining them next season.
Jensen’s agent Anton Thun, who is being quoted by News1130 and the Province’s Jim Jamieson has indirectly cited "level of competition" and his client’s need to play professional hockey next season as major reasons for his client potentially shirking the Ontario Hockey League next season.
Read past the jump for more.
What’s interesting about Jensen’s stated intentions, is that it looks like the Canucks, or Jensen’s camp, are taking advantage of a window of opportunity here. The NHL and the SEL had a transfer agreement, which would have complicated matters considerably, but it expired at the end of this past season.
Under the previous NHL/SEL transfer agreement, Vancouver would have needed to sign off on Jensen heading to the SEL (since he’s under contract on an ELC signed last fall) and in effect it would have been a one year loan. That "loan year" would have counted against Jensen’s ELC and the Swedish club Nicklas Jensen signed with would have had to compensate the Oshawa Generals.
Because there is no current transfer agreement between North America and Sweden, it appears that Jensen is free to go to the SEL without the Canucks "loaning him" out. As best as I can tell: Jensen’s hypothetical year in the SEL won’t cost Vancouver a year of his entry-level contract (like Radulov’s situation, Jensen should still "owe" the Canucks the 3 years of his ELC), and the SEL team signing him won’t have to compensate the Oshawa Generals. Obviously that makes more sense for all parties involved – except for the Generals who at least for this summer appear to be unprotected.
If Jensen does leave North America to play professional hockey in Sweden, he’d be playing against men in the third most difficult league in the world. Jensen doesn’t really have much left to prove at the OHL level, and if he was to return to the General this season he’d have been a big fish in a small pond. That probably isn’t as valuable to his long-term development as learning to swim and hunt in a salt-water sea among considerably larger fishes.