February 10, 2018

Why Vancouver Canucks fans will love Jonathan Dahén

THE REAL DEAL? Jonathan Dahlén is having a great season in the shadow of friend and former linemate Elias Pettersson. Photo: Bildbyrån/Pär Olert

 It was unquestionably a strange sight. As crowds were pouring out of NHK Arena, satisfied with hometown team Timrå IK’s convincing 2-0 victory over hated rivals Modo Hockey, there seemed to be a contingent of fans that weren’t headed for the exits at all. In fact, they were moving closer to the ice. To an outside observer it would seem like they were waiting for something. As the minutes went by, it would turn out that they were in fact waiting for someone… that someone being Jonathan Dahlén.

Before we continue, let’s back it up a bit to further set the scene.

The event I am attempting to describe took place mere weeks ago. The 20-year old Swedish phenomenon Dahlén hadn’t just set the hearts of Timrå IK fans on fire up to that point, he’d also burned the scoresheets of Swedish HockeyAllsvenskan to a crisp. Rumors had begun swirling around Dahlén though. Ever since news broke that he had an “out-clause” in his contract that was set to expire on February 15th, fans demanded to know: Would he move up a tier and sign in the SHL? Would he forego a larger paycheck and stay with Timrå? Would the Vancouver Canucks go so far as to bring him overseas right then and there?

Suddenly, Dahlén came out from the NHK Arena dressing room and skated onto the ice. As he got closer to the hundreds of fans who were clamoring to know the details of his future, he put one finger to his lips and called for silence. The arena went quiet as the fans leaned in as close to the ice as they possibly could. Dahlén paused for a second and then exclaimed:

“I’m staying!”

He didn’t have to say more. A loud roar reverberated through the arena – legends say the roar can still be heard around the city of Timrå – as Dahlén made sure to clap his hands and thank the fans that had stayed out to wait as he made his way back to the dressing room.

”Only a heartless fool would leave this team. My heart is in the right place so I’ll be staying here. I see us having a real shot at promotion here. As long as we do, I’m not going anywhere”, he told Swedish broadcaster C More when asked about the decision.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for Dahlén in 2017-18, though. As September rolled around Dahlén showed up to Canucks training camp eager to impress the coaching staff only to be struck by mononucleosis. The illness kept him out for most of camp and quickly dashed any hopes he might’ve had of making the NHL this season.

A humbled Dahlén returned to Timrå determined to improve upon his previous season – a campaign in which he scored 44 points (25+19) in 45 games playing with fellow Canucks’ prospect Elias Pettersson. With Pettersson now in the SHL producing at a point-per-game pace for Växjö Lakers, Dahlén suddenly found himself the main target for opposing teams’ defenders.

How things turned out?

Well, considering Timrå is pacing the entire HockeyAllsvenskan in points and Dahlén leads the team with 37 points (20+17) in 36 games, it is safe to say he has lived up to expectations.

As famed NBC announcer Pierre McGuire usually says: “Canucks fans, get excited about this kid – he’s going to be the real deal!”

Not only is Dahlén incredibly skilled with the puck, he also has a wicked release and possesses excellent vision which allows him to get the most out of his ability to hang on to the puck for just the right amount of time. Furthermore, he already has a full season of playing on the same roster – often the same line – as Elias Pettersson under his belt. With Pettersson poised to make the Canucks roster next season, putting Dahlén on the same line could ignite instant chemistry and create that “rookie scoring line” GMs salivate over.

On top of it all Dahlén is just a good kid with a good head on his shoulders. Odds are he’s been approached with lucrative offers by clubs from all over the SHL as well as the rest of Europe – yet he’s decided to remain with the same team he’s been with for four years in order to help them secure a promotion to the top division.

Vancouver Canucks fans; if that doesn’t tell you what you need to know about this young prospect then I don’t know what will.


Hampus Duvefelt hampus_duvefelt@live.se
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