Tue Sep 13 11:18am EDT
When Norwegian netminder Steffen Soberg left the Swift Current Broncos to return home instead of heading to Washington Capitals rookie camp, everyone feared the worst.
That might reflect how much it's taken for granted an import coming from thousands of kilometres away will be able to acclimatize to new surroundings and culture — and there's probably a particular sensitivity when he's coming to a team in one of the Canadian Hockey League's smaller centres such as Swift Current. Soberg, a Capitals draft choice whom you might remember as Norway's goalie during the world junior hockey championship, went home two days ago, stoking concerns another WHL team might lose out on adding a drafted European goalie. The big-market Vancouver Giants have been unable to add Jonathan IIlahti, even though his NHL organization is in the same city.) Capitals goalie coach Dave Prior said it's believed Soberg, who just turned 18 in August, will return. That's probably a relief for the Broncos, who otherwise could be left without their top import pick.
"It's a disappointment because it would be nice to have the time to work with him. But until it's sorted out, I guess, it's not a concern," Prior said Monday. "It excited me more he's playing in North America, and my understanding is that's still a likelihood at this point."
Like with current Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, Prior hoped a move from Europe to somewhere in the Canadian Hockey League would help "fast-track" Soberg's career.
... The difference is, the Caps knew before selecting Neuvirth that he wanted to come to North America to get that seasoning — he told them as much in pre-draft meetings. Soberg, on the other hand, hadn't had any real contact with the organization, and Prior noted that the young goalie expressed some hesitation back in July at development camp about coming overseas already. (Washington Times)
For now, in Swiftie, there's a willingness to wait as Broncos play-by-play voice Shawn Mullin explained late Monday.
The young man deserves as much time as he needs to take care of whatever it is that he needs to take care of it. Hockey will be waiting for him when he's ready. The Broncos will have to move forward for now with Austin Smith, Steven Myland and an eye to other options if they aren't able to carry the load. We all hope Soberg will be back because from everything we hear and see it will be a treat to watch him. It sounds like he will return. It's just a matter of when. (Broncos Blog)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.