GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Chemistry is rare in prospect camps.
After all, it’s a disparate mix of players in the team’s system, including the AHL, a handful of picks selected in the recent entry draft, and invitees, all thrown together for drills and scrimmages.
But it was impossible to miss the connection between forwards Malte Stromwall, 21, and Robin Kovacs, 19, during Wednesday’s scrimmage. They each had two goals and a handful of assists and they scored in every situation — 5-on-4, 4-on-4, 3-on-3. They were linemates last season for AIK, which won the championship in Allsvenskan, the second-highest league in Sweden.
The pair finished first and second in scoring for AIK last season. Stromwall had 25 goals and 42 points in 49 games. Kovacs posted 21 goals and 13 assists in 44 games in his second season with the club.
“It’s easier,” said Kovacs, who was drafted 62nd overall in 2015. “We played with each other the whole season back home, we know where we are on the ice.”
Essentially, they are fast, agile, possession players, skills that are increasingly important in the NHL. Depending on how they fare this summer, the duo could start this season in Hartford.
Stromwall, an undrafted right wing, signed a two-year, entry level contract in April, has more experience in North America, scoring 32 goals and 93 points in 130 games for the WHL’s Tri-City Americans between 2011 and 2013. “I need to straighten my game up a little bit, but it’s good to play with him ,” he said. “We hang out with each other outside the rink, too.”
Kovacs, a lefty who attended prospect camp last season, said he felt more comfortable in the surroundings. “I know every test, every drill,” he said. “My goal is to play here [in North America], but I need to improve every day. I’m better on the smaller ice; I want to take the puck to the net.”