Probably nobody in the Canadiens front office took the time to ask Mats Naslund about the highly touted ability of Swedish free agent forward Fabian Brunnstrom when his agent was auctioning his services in early 2008. . They certainly had the opportunity. Naslund, who at the time was the assistant general manager of the Swedish National team, was in Montreal to take part in the Bob Gainey retirement ceremony in February 2008.
Gainey didn’t ask. I did. Naslund’s blunt assessment, “He’s terrible! He’s not an NHL player.” A month later, Brunnstrom was cut by the Swedish National team.
Undeterred, Gainey made a heavy pitch for Brunnstrom’s services in May of 2008. So by the way, did Vancouver, Detroit and Dallas, with whom he eventually signed on a two-year $875-thousand dollar annual contract that could expand to 2.2 million with bonuses.
That fall, Brunnstrom became only the third player in NHL history to score a hattrick in his first NHL game. (On Sunday, the Rangers Derek Stepan became the fourth).
And, that was his career. Naslund was right. The next almost 100 games he scored 18 more, including two in forty-four games last season. Off that, Brunnstrom and his agent actually filed for salary arbitration before regaining sanity and signing a one year 650-thousand dollar deal.
Today Dallas placed Brunnstrom on waivers.
And the Canadian scouting department might consider asking Mats Naslund next time they get excited over a free agent Swede.