Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mikael Andersson

Mikael Andersson was a tremendously gifted skater. His speed was the key to his game. He had a great wrist shot but didn't utilize it nearly enough, especially early on in his career. And he tended to over-handle the puck. Though he lacked the strength to be a physical presence in the NHL, Andersson became an effective checker by using his quickness to pounce on loose pucks.

The Sabres selected Mikael in the first round of the 1984 NHL entry draft, making him the first Swedish player to be picked by the Sabres that highly. Although he would attend the Sabres training camp in 1984, he returned to Sweden for another year before coming to North America in the 1985-86 season.

Mikael struggled throughout his career as a Sabre. In his rookie season he played in 32 games, but scored just once. After that uninspiring debut, Mikael spent most of the 1986-87 season in the minor leagues. He appeared in 16 games with the Sabres that year and registered just 3 assists. Sabres fans quickly were becoming impatient with the young Swede, who was another in a list of what appeared to be bad draft choices by general manager Scotty Bowman.

Andersson split the 1987-88 season between the Sabres and the minors. His 3 goals and 20 assists in 37 games proved to be his best season in Buffalo. However in 1988-89 he appeared in just 14 contests, picking up just 1 point That proved to be Mikael’s final year in Buffalo, although a lengthy NHL and hockey career remained ahead of him.

Mikael was picked up by the Hartford Whalers in the pre-season NHL waiver draft prior to the beginning of the 1989-90 season. The move proved to be a good one for Mikael, who played the majority of his season in the NHL with the Whalers. By 1991-92 he was able to register his best year as an NHLer - scoring 18 times while collecting 47 points and totalling an impressive plus-18.

The timing for Mikael's breakout year couldn't have been better as he gained free agency status that summer. He exercised his right to shop his services around the league and signed on with the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning. He would enjoy 8 seasons in the Florida sunshine.

A late season trade to Philadelphia in 1999 followed by a short stint with the New York Islanders in 2000 rounded out his NHL career. However he did return to his native Sweden to continue playing.

While most Sabres fans will remember Andersson as one of Bowman's draft busts, his career stats suggest otherwise, particularly hi 761 NHL games played. In that time he collected 95 goals and 264 points and just 134 minutes in penalties. He also enjoyed a storied international career including 3 world junior championships, 3 world championships, 1 Canada Cup and 1 World Cup, plus the 1998 Olympic games.

Not a bad career at all.

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