Habsworld.net has named Swedish goaltender Christopher Heino-Lindberg the October prospect of the month for his outstanding play in nets for Hammerby of the Swedish Tier-2 league. After only one appearance in the Tier-2 league at the age of 17, Heino-Lindberg was able to land a starting position the next season after being loaned to Vallentuna, the worst team in the league. Not only was it difficult for the 18 year old to play in the higher level of competition, but he was also faced with the difficult task of facing 40+ shots a night, and at times upwards of 60 shots, in addition to playing on a team that had great difficulty to find ways to win. This may end up being a major learning curve for the young netminder, as he never gave up and according to his father, “Chris never let it get him down, no matter how tough it got on him”. Tough times like this can benefit a player in the long run as they build character from facing tough challenges, as it can’t be easy to put on the pads night in and night out, knowing that your team will most likely lose, as Vallentuna won only three games all season.
However difficult it was for Christopher, he was able to get his spot back with Hammerby, as he saw limited action with the team after Vallentuna’s season was terminated and they were regulated to the Tier-3 league. The coaches of Hammerby must have seen something they liked in Heino-Lindberg, as he became the teams’ starter the following season at the age of 19, and even impressed Team Sweden’s coaching staff, as he was used as the starter for the U-20 team during tournament play over the summer. Christopher was not done impressing coaches and management, as he also made a big impression on the Montreal Canadiens staff at the development camp where he showed off a flashy glove hand and some very aggressive play as well.
When the 2004-2005 season started Heino-Lindberg picked up where he left off from the summer, as he has been one of the top goalies in the Tier-2 league, helping his team to stay near the top of the league. So far this season, Heino-Lindberg has been a rock in nets, starting in all 16 games, getting two shutouts, and posting an impressive 1.66 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. Team Sweden again took notice, selecting Heino-Lindberg to start in the U-20 tournament that starts next week, and if all goes well, it’s expected that he will also be the starter when the World Junior Championship tournament gets underway.
Also up for the top rookie honors, Marcel Hossa looks to have found confidence while overseas, playing for Mora of the Swedish Elite league. Hossa could end up being one player that benefits from the NHL lockout, as his development with the Canadiens was becoming a mystery to many fans. In only 14 games this season, Marcel has already scored nine goals, and his 47 PIMS surpass his season totals with Hamilton last season. In addition to Heino-Lindberg and Marcel Hossa, Corey Locke also received consideration for his successful debut in the American Hockey league, as he has been one of Hamilton’s top scorers, and has also been in the top five for rookie scoring in the league as well. No one doubts the skill level of the 20 year old Locke, but many had concerns about his lack of size, strength and foot speed. So far this season, Locke has shown he has the kind of skills that can’t be taught, and a willingness to work hard each and every shift. In nine games this year, Locke has three goals and three assists, while also ranking near the top of the team with a +3.