Ottawa's latest first round pick Erik Karlsson is playing on a defensive pairing with Victor Hedman for Team Sweden at this week's USA World Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid.
So what's the big deal?
Some say Hedman is now considered ahead of John Tavares for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Yes, Hedman is that good. Many are comparing him to the likes of Chris Pronger with the skill set of Nicklas Lidstrom.
"One prospects website, Hockey's Future, talked to a senior NHL scout who said he'd have no hesitation telling his team to pick 6-foot-5 Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman ahead of Tavares."
"But nothing Hedman does this week will impact his stock too much. He already has proven to many scouts that he is a potential franchise defenseman. Hedman is a mobile, 6-foot-6 defenseman who already is drawing comparisons to NHL standout Chris Pronger. At 17, he was playing full-time for MoDo in Sweden’s Elite League, a rarity in a league considered to be not that far removed from the caliber of the NHL. This season, he will see even more ice time with the senior team.
Hedman can already dominate a game with his brawn, skill set and hockey smarts. He is already far ahead of any other player for the No. 1 ranking among draft-eligible Europeans."
Having Erik Karlsson on a pairing with Hedman is surely making the Ottawa scouts very proud. They went a little off the board for this guy who was underrated mostly due to his size.
A big showing by Karlsson at the WJC's here in Ottawa around Christmas will only sweeten the deal for fans worried that there is no legitimate number one puck moving defenseman in the system (with apologies to Brian Lee who may be that number one guy after all is said and done).