Although it has been widely reported that Farjestads BK forward Rickard Wallin is considering leaving Sweden to return to the NHL, and that the team interested in bringing him back to North America is the Toronto Maple Leafs, there is no definite timetable on when he might sign.
One would assume a decision is likely to happen within the next week.Â Â Wallin’s four year contract with Farjestads includes a clause which allows him to sign with an NHL team, but that clause is only in effect until July 15th.
Some have questioned where exactly Wallin may fit on this club.Â Â Â Given his two-way prowess and decent size (6’3 200), Wallin would likely fit as a third line centre or winger, and be a key member of a penalty-killing unit that is in dire need of an upgrade.Â The 29-year old’s leadership skills (he is currently the captain of Farjestads BK) would also come in handy on what is expected to be a very young group of forwards entering the 2009-10 season.
There is certainly a comfort zone for Wallin in Toronto, with former teammates Jonas Frogren (signed last year) and Jonas Gustavsson (signed this week) already part of the Maple Leafs roster.Â Â He has had a taste of the NHL before, putting up 9 points in 15 games during the 2003-04 season with the Minnesota Wild.Â Unfortunately, he did not fit the pre-lockout trapping-style of play, and after spending the next year in the AHL returned to Sweden.
Leafs GM Brian Burke certainly sees a place for Wallin in Toronto.Â Speaking to AM 640 on Tuesday, Burke described what it was about Wallin that captured his interest.
“Rickard Wallin, in our opinion, could take Dominic Moore’s job from last year.Â This is a Sami Pahlsson type player, who is tenacious defensively and good on faceoffs, but has offensive upside; he actually led Farjestads in scoring last year.Â This is a complete hockey player.
He came over once before, tried to make it in the Minnesota organization and was unsuccessful. But to me, some of those guys — like Mikael Samuelsson who Vancouver just signed, he came over and failed and then came back — sometimes they have to come over and see exactly what is involved, and fail before they can succeed.Â I think this guy can help us … this is a guy we have great interest in.”
Whether or not Wallin ultimately is signed is up to him.Â The Maple Leafs have made an offer, and now Wallin is in the process of deciding whether or not he wants to return to the NHL, or remain in Sweden and continue to captain Farjestads BK.
Whichever decision he makes, we should know whether or not he is coming over by July 15th, when his escape clause in the contract with Farjestads expires.