Junland Hopes Full-Time NHL Job is Next

Monday, 03.15.2010 / 12:08 PM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
By NHL .com  - Correspondents
Share with your Friends

Junland Hopes Full-Time NHL Job is Next
Assistant GM Kevin McDonald says Junland is a guy that is "planning to make St. Louis and stay in the NHL for good." (Getty Images)
Many young hockey players grow up with a trophy room in their house.

Peoria defenseman Jonas Junland was even luckier. He had a chocolate room in his family abode in a suburb of Linkoping, Sweden.

Both of Junland's parents work for Cloetta, one of the most well-known chocolate companies in Scandinavia. There were a ton of samples brought home and stored, which made Junland one of the most popular kids in his neighborhood.

"We had a big room back home where we kept all our candy," he said. "Our friends liked to walk in, take a peek, get a couple pieces. We always had chocolate back home. It was hard to stay away from it."

Years later, Junland has taken his sweet show on the road. His parents visited him over the Christmas break, lugging with them a suitcase full of chocolate for Jonas to enjoy and dole out to his teammates.

"Everybody liked it, but most of them loved it," he said. "Especially during the summer, I try to stay away from (overindulging). During the season, we practice and play so much, I eat as much as I want."

It's not exactly the snack of champions, but there isn't any clamor among the Rivermen to choke off their Willy Wonka supply. And Junland's game certainly has the pep of someone on a sugar kick.

The second-year defenseman is orchestrating a power play that ranks fourth in the AHL at 20.6 percent. He's second among defenseman in power-play goals (10) and is ninth among defensemen with 39 points (13-26).

"He's sort of the defenseman teams are looking to have -- real good puck-mover, always looking to step up in the play," said Kevin McDonald, assistant GM of the Blues. "He'll be a guy right now that next year is planning to make (St. Louis) and stay in the NHL for good."

It's a goal that Junland, 22, thought he had tucked in his back pocket twice only to watch both chances slip away.

Junland, a 2006 third-round pick, wowed St. Louis in training camp last season, and McDonald said Junland was on the cusp of making the team. But a separated shoulder detoured him to Peoria, where he had 13 goals and 31 points in 70 games, and was named an AHL all-star.

"He looked at it in a positive way. He knew he could play at that level," McDonald said.

"I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know how good I could be," Junland said. "I did a little better than I should have done. I think they would have played me (in St. Louis) from the beginning of the year if I stayed healthy. There's nothing I can do about it."

Actually, there was. The 6-foot-2, 198-pounder returned to St. Louis a month early last summer to attack the Blues' conditioning program. It was an investment that kept him healthy for the most part this season -- although he's battling a mild concussion now -- and helped him push even harder for a season-opening NHL spot.

"It's just nice being in St. Louis, seeing what it's all about. They put more effort into working out," he said.

Junland didn't get nearly as long a taste of the NHL atmosphere as he planned. He thought he made a successful argument to stick this preseason, but the Blues saw it another way and sent him back to the Rivermen. This demotion stung even more because it came right before the team played an exhibition game in Junland's hometown against his former team.

"I was mad for a while. I was looking forward to that," he said. "It's just the life of a hockey player. I guess I wasn't good enough. I guess I played well during the preseason, but I guess someone else played better."

Very few AHL defensemen this season can make that claim. Junland bolted from the starting gates with 6 goals and 9 assists in his first 13 games and was named the league's player of the month for October. And, again, he was selected as an all-star.

"I'm an offensive guy. I should produce," Junland said.

"He's always had the offensive ability," said McDonald. "I think as an organization what we're most excited about is that after the first 20 or 30 games this year, he became a lot better in his own zone and can be used in all situations. "I think this year, we're seeing a difference. I think he's adjusting to the schedule. He's gotten stronger. That's where he's really helped himself as a prospect."

Junland motivates himself by focusing on another number that characterizes his season -- one. It represents the single game he's played with the parent team for the second consecutive season.

"'I think I deserve a chance at some point. I'm going to keep going here in Peoria," he said. "Hopefully, my time will come soon. I feel like I need to play well here for the last few games of the year. I expect myself to keep playing good both ways on the ice."

Junland may have to get by on adrenaline alone. The chocolate supply is dwindling, and is in danger of running out if the Rivermen rally for a postseason spot. There are no plans to request the shipping of an emergency package from home.

"I don't want them to send more," he said. "I'm just going to stop eating (it), I guess. I'll buy myself some ice cream instead."




1 ANA 76 47 22 7 222 213 101
2 NSH 75 46 21 8 214 180 100
3 STL 74 46 21 7 226 182 99
4 CHI 73 44 23 6 207 167 94
5 MIN 74 42 25 7 211 183 91
6 VAN 74 43 27 4 212 199 90
7 WPG 75 39 24 12 212 197 90
8 LAK 74 37 23 14 199 184 88
9 CGY 74 40 27 7 217 195 87
10 DAL 74 36 28 10 232 236 82
11 SJS 74 36 30 8 207 210 80
12 COL 74 34 28 12 200 206 80
13 EDM 74 21 40 13 177 254 55
14 ARI 75 23 44 8 158 249 54


V. Tarasenko 74 35 35 29 70
A. Steen 72 24 38 6 62
J. Schwartz 67 24 31 16 55
D. Backes 73 25 29 7 54
T. Oshie 66 19 32 13 51
P. Stastny 66 14 29 6 43
A. Pietrangelo 74 6 35 -2 41
K. Shattenkirk 49 8 32 18 40
J. Lehtera 67 11 28 19 39
P. Berglund 69 8 12 -6 20
B. Elliott 24 12 3 .921 2.16
J. Allen 19 6 4 .906 2.45

Single Game Tickets
2015-16 Ticket Plans
Group Tickets
Luxury Suites
Renew Your Season Tickets
NHL Ticket Exchange
View From Your Seat

In the System
Front Office
Blues History
All-Time Player Roster
Chicago Wolves
Alaska Aces

Regular Season
Practice Schedule
Promotions Schedule
Schedule Downloads

Player Stats
League Standings

Blues Overtime Blog

Video Channels
Game Highlights


Find a Player
Mobile App
E-mail Subscriptions

Hot Deals for Cool Fans
Photo Galleries
License Plates

Blues in the Community
Blues 14 Fund
50/50 Raffle Numbers

Online Store
Blues Auctions
True Blues Authentics

stlouisblues.com is the official Web site of the St Louis Blues. St Louis Blues, stlouisblues.com and stlblues.com are trademarks of the St Louis Blues Hockey Club. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 St. Louis Blues Hockey Club and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.