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Islanders Sign Johan Sundstrom: If You Rebuild It, Swedes Will Come

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Sundstrom matched against Finland's best line at the WJC.
Sundstrom matched against Finland's best line at the WJC.

For any New York Islanders fan who stared at a pretty bare prospect cupboard back in 2007, it's hard not to get a little excited about the number of two-way prospects steadily entering the system.

We talked of one of those earlier today when we mentioned David Ullstrom's progress on our Top 25 Islanders Under 25. Now you can formally add another to the pipeline as the Islanders have signed fellow Swede Johan Sundstrom to an entry level contract [earlier FanShot thread here], a year before his rights would have lapsed. (While we're talking Swedes, John Persson -- a fellow 2011 draftee like Sundström -- signed earlier this spring.)

Frolunda's Sundström, who can play center or wing, was selected with the the 50th overall pick in 2011, one of the picks acquired from Montreal in the James Wisniewski property flip of 2010-11. It was immediately regarded as a savvy selection: a player whose stats don't stand out on paper but whose reach and smarts are frequently deployed by Swedish coaches in shutdown roles -- such as last winter's WJC -- with some offensive punch sprinkled on top.

The Isles were obviously high on Sundström from the beginning, but the important sign is a year later his curve has continued to trend the right way, leading to this signing.

Without resorting to national stereotypes too much, it's nice to have some Swedish flavor -- or more pertinently, Swedish-trained players -- mixed into the rebuild recipe, following in the footsteps of Swedish-trained Dane Frans Nielsen. Not that any of these will become dynamic scorers nor Nielsen clones, but this is a healthy mix of forwards with strong backgrounds in diligent two-way hockey. If the on-ice product is to move upward as planned, they'll need some of that.