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Enstrom Makes An Impression

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It is 4 am as I write this after a long drive home from Nashville, but I didn't want to hit the hay before posting a quick note about Tobias Enstrom. Simply put he really turned my head tonight. The Thrashers didn't dress any of their top 5 NHL defensemen and of the six guys fighting for a spot he stood head and shoulders above the rest.

This summer I was excited after reading about Enstrom but when he arrived at Prospect Camp I was a bit underwhelmed. Last night he looked much better. He passed very well and he displayed above average speed and hockey sense. His biggest problem is a lack of size which makes it hard for him to cover large chunks of territory in his own end.

Enstrom may not have figured in the scoring for Atlanta, but as the game progressed you could just see his confidence rising. He made some good plays in the 1st period but in the 2nd and 3rd he became more aggressive at challenging the opposition in the neutral (creating some turnovers in the Thrashers favor) and carrying the puck into the offensive zone off the rush to jump start the offense.

I was also impressed with the puck skills on the power. He made crisp accurate passes at the point that were not picked off. When the opposing penalty killers tried to pressure him he spun away from them and didn't panic or blindly dump the puck. He knew exactly how much time and space he had available and he waited until the last second before the window closed to make his pass (which reminds me a bit of Slava Kozlov's style). He played with poise and confidence.

I don't want to get overly excited after just one pre-season game but the man played with some real NHL flair last night and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing him skate again. Should he break camp with Atlanta he will certainly give up some goals against simply because he is small, but did display a willingness to be physical at times and showed no fear from bigger players out there.

(I notice that I have some readers from Sweden reading the blog. If there are any Enstrom fans please feel welcome to comment on his play.