Players could have Sweden option

NEW YORK -- Another floodgate may have opened for the contingent of NHL players headed overseas during the lockout.

According to reports out of Sweden, a recent antitrust ruling may open up the Swedish Elite League, Elitserien, to locked-out players looking to play in Europe. The SEL was previously closed off to NHL players during the lockout, though that policy may now be subject to change.

Along with the KHL, the SEL is regarded in the hockey community as one of the premier European leagues, with plenty of skilled players and a high level of competition.

The KHL and Swiss A-leagues have commanded the most interest since the lockout began last weekend. An exodus of players -- including stars Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Joe Thornton and Rick Nash -- joined clubs just days after the work stoppage began.

With hundreds of players interested in jobs overseas and only a limited number of spots open -- each league has its own set of import rules -- the SEL could provide another appealing landing spot, especially among the Swedish NHL players.