The Ones Who Walk Away: Robin Figren leaves, signs with Linköping

In a post-modernist interpretation of the Islanders' European prospect hierarchy, Russia's Kirill Petrov obscures our view of -- and shields the ever-elusive puck from -- the now-departed Swede Robin Figren.

As much-rumored, and as picked up on Michael Fornabaio's ConnPost blog (complete with the hilarious Google Translated phrase: "Two seasons of harrowing of the AHL to be enough"), Robin Figren -- but you can call him FIGRA -- has officially taken his puck and gone home.

He signs a two-year deal with Linköping (LHC), who'd sent a rep over to "present a comprehensive solution, and it really seemed like the LHC wanted me."

Which is different from how Figren apparently felt as an Islanders prospect.

Figren's time in North America was peppered with whispers and hints that he wanted more ice time, more of an opportunity, and he wanted it now. He got more of that with Bridgeport this season -- although no callup to the big club as others on the farm passed him by -- and at the end of the season he told Fornabaio this:

On his play: "This year was a lot more fun than last year. I got to play more. It’s not a secret. I thought I got a chance to play my game more this year than last year. It was a fun year playing. I had my ups and downs, for sure, but I was always trying to do my best. The last two or three months, playing power play continually, I felt I got my game back."

What’s next? "We’ll see. My contract’s running out. I know I haven’t talked with the Islanders yet. I want to talk with them and see what’s going to happen. I can’t really say too much."

Figren's stats and opportunity improved in 2010-11, when he logged 76 games and put up a sixth-best 14-17-31 on an offense-challenged team. (Rhett Rakhshani led Sound Tiger scorers with 24-38-62.)

Amusingly, his translated bio at Eliteprospects reads:

A spectacular player type. Combined MVP and rubs. FIGRA is a skilled skater with good acceleration and top speed. He has excellent game inside, technology, and a really sharp slap shot.Skilled players fit and capable scorer. [He] work hard both ways, and despite its somewhat modest size, an aggressive player who is relatively successful in the close control.

Despite that flattering description from the time of his drafting, I confess I never saw any role in the Islanders' future for the 3rd-round (70th overall) 2006 pick.

Worse (in terms of my arbitrarily grouping prospects by regions of our planet), I associated him as the weakest in a long line of average Nordic picks who were long shots to be major players for the Islanders. (In truth, each man is his own player, but who can resist the urge to group players with umlauts or excess vowels or very-Swedish sounding names?)

Frans Nielsen remains the home run result there, Sean Begenheim became at least a serviceable NHL winger (although his high draft selection elicited hopes for more), and hopefully 2008 4th-rounder David Ullström carves out a niche as his ELC continues. Another wild card whose contract is expiring as a restricted free agent is the Finn Jesse Joensuu (who like Ullström is much bigger than Figren -- who himself, unlike either Ullström or Joensuu, possesses neither an umlaut nor a satisfying doubled vowel or consonant).

Seriously though, bets on players with that stereotypically rounded skillset that we associate with Nordic players are definitely worth it. No shock that, like North Americans, only a certain percentage work out.

So for Figren, looking at the Islanders' organizational depth and considering there was a healthy offer at home, you can't blame him for fleeing. (Nor, really, can you blame the Islanders if they let him go without a fight.)

After all, home is home. And "two seasons of harrowing of the AHL to be enough."

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