The decision by Sweden's top hockey league, Elitserien (or Swedish Elite League), not to allow short-term lockout contracts for NHL stars has been overturned in an anti-trust ruling. The move could lead to a flood of NHL signings, especially by Swedish-born and bred players.
Szymon Szemberg, the communications director for the IIHF, reports that while the anti-trust ruling struck down a league-wide ban on those contracts, Elitserien teams still have the option of whether or not they'd like to sign NHL players to short-term deals.
The decision could impact Flyers defensemen Nicklas Grossmann and Andreas Lilja, two of three Swedes on the roster, in the event of a lengthy lockout.
Grossmann told SB Nation's Dave Strehle earlier this week that he would think about a Swedish option should the lockout stretch deep into the season. He played in the SEL for Södertälje for one game in 2003-04 and 31 games in 2004-05 before moving to North America following the 2004 NHL draft, when he was selected by the Dallas Stars. Södertälje has since been relegated to Allsvenskan, Sweden's second-tier league.
Lilja remains out of action until December following summer hip surgery, but if the lockout draws out into 2013, it seems possible that Lilja could jump to Elitserien. The 37-year-old played parts of six seasons in the SEL with Malmö from 1994 until 2000 when he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings. He played 44 games with Mora during the 2004-05 NHL lockout as well. Both Malmö and Mora have been relegated to the second tier since as well.
The Flyers' other Swede, Erik Gustafsson, has been sent to the Adirondack Phantoms and would be in breach of his entry-level NHL contract if he were to leave to play in Europe during the lockout (or at any time before he hits free agency, for that matter).
Early rumors have several Swedish stars jumping on the chance to play in their homeland's top league -- and arguably the third-strongest hockey league in the world behind the NHL and KHL. New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Stars forward Loui Eriksson and Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson are all reportedly in negotiations with Frölunda.