The trend in recent years that has seen the number of Swedish born and raised players chosen by NHL teams at the NHL Draft has continued to grow and serve as proof that the nation of Sweden is currently one ofthe top developers of hockey talent on the planet.
In 2011, Sweden saw an outstanding and record-setting 28 players taken, eight more than the year before. In 2012, another 22 were selected. In 2013, that number increased slightly as another 25 Swedes were taken. These numbers represented, in each case, the highest number of Europeans selected from any one country at the event. The draft class for the 2014 NHL Draft on June 27th and 28th in Philadelphia will surely include another good handful of Swedish players, although the strong numbers in recent years may ultimately drop.
This past winter didn’t have the scouting community gushing about players like the winter before, when names like Elias Lindholm, Alexander Wennberg, Jacob de la Rose, Andre Burakovsky, and Robert Hagg had many thinking of long-term answers for their respective clubs. This year’s group should once again end up producing a number of picks and, ultimately, NHL players over the course of time, but it just isn’t as ballyhooed as some of the past few classes.
Nonetheless, there are a couple of young men who’ll likely hear their names called at the draft who were thought of as being higher ranked a few years ago, but just didn’t have the type of 2013-14 season necessary to maintain that rank. On the other hand, several of the top European prospects have been playing in Sweden and they just happen to represent the third-, fourth-, and fifth-highest ranked European players in Central Scouting's rankings. Each of these young men, two from the Czech Republic and one from Switzerland, are thought to have outstanding possibilities moving forward and all three played for their respective nations at both the U18 World Championship and the U20 World Junior Championship.
With all that in mind, here's a closer look at the top 10 Swedish prospects entering the 2014 NHL Draft, and the order in which we at Hockey’s Future feel they’ll be taken.
1. William Nylander – F – Shoots: Right – 5’11”, 181 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #2
May 1st, 1996
Nylander is arguably this draft’s most impressive skater when it comes to pivoting with speed, both with and without the puck – and while accepting passes. Once he has that puck, there’s little opponents in this draft have been able to do to get it away from him. His stickhandling and puck possession skills are top flight and have been wowing fans for several years in the Allsvenskan, SHL, and at international tournaments. When you take into account that his wrist shot is as hard and accurate as just about anyone in the draft, and that he seems to have eyes in the back of his head when it comes to passing, one has to wonder why he isn’t being talked about to go first overall. Look no further than Nylander's average size and topsy-turvy season for your answer to that.
This year started out with quite a hullabaloo as he came in playing on a line for Rogle of the Allsvenskan with his father and former NHL forward Michael Nylander. Already known as a flashy kid who was anything but camera shy, this gimmick (as some felt it was) had grabbed the attention of all Hockey Scandinavia. Things didn’t go too well for the younger Nylander, though, who only put up four goals and eight points in 18 games before controversially moving back to his old Allsvenskan club, Sodertalje, where he proceeded to tear things up with 11 goals and 19 points in 17 playing with fellow draft prospect David Pastrnak. Not even really taken into consideration for Sweden’s WJC team, Nylander’s path led him to 24 SHL games with traditional team MODO with whom he put up seven points and a modest -2 rating.
Ironically, as strong as his SHL debut was perceived, his public persona once again got loads of attention as he and the ever so outgoing Kirill Kabanov, loaned late in the season from Bridgeport to MODO, ended up forming quite the entertaining friendship. Nylander’s rollercoaster season ended on a somewhat high note as he was arguably one of the top three players at the U18 WC in Finland, putting up six goals, 16 points, and a +8 rating in seven games for a Swedish side that just missed out on a bronze medal.
All in all, there’s absolutely no doubt about his high-end skills and the kind of skating that will allow him to continually put those skills on display, but his rather small frame continues to have the scouting community wondering just how much of an impact he’ll ultimately have. In light of his outstanding results at the NHL Combine, one has to think there are several teams out there who have no doubts about him.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 5-8.
2. Kevin Fiala – F – Shoots: Left – 5’10”, 181 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #3
Jul 22nd, 1996
A skater who features excellent balance and the ability to twist and turn at will, Fiala is quite the competitor and has had an incredibly busy 2013-14 season. A kid with the whole package in the offensive skills department, including a trick bag of moves, a slingshot of a wrister, and passes that hit the tape of teammates just about every time, he spent the majority of the winter playing for HV71’s U20 program (after a year in Malmo), where he put up 10 goals, 25 points, and a +10 rating in 27 games before being called up to the SHL team. Once there, he never looked back. He was so impressive that the team kept him in the line-up and would not regret it. In 17 regular season games, he chipped in three goals and 11 points, but that was just ‘nice’ in comparison to the goal, six points, 14 penalty minutes, and +5 rating he contributed in eight playoff games, more than opening the eyes of just about everybody in Hockey Sweden.
Of Czech descent but hailing from Switzerland, Fiala represented his nation in all three of the most important international tournaments this past winter. It started at the U20 WJC in Malmo, where he played an active top-six forward role and chipped in one goal and five points in six games, a very respectable showing for a 17-year-old. His dominance at this level was then clear for all to see at the U18 WC in Finland, where he carried the Swiss on his back, collecting an almost always incredibly timely four goals, nine points and +4 in five games. Despite his age and relatively small size, the Swiss Federation had no qualms in adding him to the men’s World Championship team in Minsk, where he managed to suit up for seven games and chipped in two assists and a +3 rating. Impressive for any young man, one really has to take a step back and realize he’ll first be turning 18 almost a month after the NHL Draft has concluded.
A go-to guy with game-breaking skills, Fiala was Switzerland’s answer to every dilemma at the 2014 U18 WC, a tournament where nations like his need heroes. His performance there went a long way in convincing the scouting community that Fiala is a gamer who delivers when the going gets rough. If there’s been a high-riser this spring in the forward ranks, it’s this youngster. Slightly smaller than Nylander, the two are considered to be amongst the best game-breakers available on the 27th.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 11-16.
3. Jakub Vrana – F – Shoots: Left – 6’0”, 176 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #4
Dec 2nd, 1994
Had you asked a year ago, the above description of Fiala would probably been expected of Vrana entering this season. A Czech who went to Sweden at the age of 15, Vrana has grown into a leader and go-to player for his nation. He didn’t have the type of winter that was expected, however, having come into the season looking like a likely top 15 pick in this draft.
A player with a great nose for the net and strong overall offensive instincts, Vrana endured his fair share of ups and downs. A player with a real knack for timely goals, he started the season expected to perhaps gain a bottom-six role for Linkoping of the SHL. Instead, he spent the better part of the season suiting up for the club’s U20 team, where he put up 14 goals, 25 points and a +6 rating in 24 games. This eventually gained Vrana his way into the SHL, where he played a total of 38 games in the regular and postseason. In all, he scored three goals, two assists, posted a -6 rating and was just not able to have the kind of impact a number of other lesser heralded 2014 draft picks ultimately had for their clubs.
Unafraid to shoot from anywhere, Vrana seems to most enjoy coming in off the right wing side and finding the far inner goalpost. His release and accuracy are obviously tricky for goaltenders, as no less than his most recent international offensive success has demonstrated. While enduring that tough season in Sweden, he did represent his native Czech Republic at the U20 WJC and U18, leading his team to the silver medal in the latter, which was the best result his country has ever gained at that tournament. At the WJC, Vrana had a good role of responsibility, but only contributed one goal and one assist. Things looked quite different at the U18, where he did away with any doubts about his ability to be a go-to guy, leading the tournament with eight goals and collecting 10 points and a +3 rating in 7 games.
Vrana has been talked about for a number of years now, but his size and the relative difficulty he’s had to gain regular minutes in the SHL do have some in the scouting community wondering what exactly his true upside is over the long run. He is currently expected to spend next season with Linkoping’s SHL club.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 20-30.
4. David Pastrnak – F – Shoots: Right – 6’0”, 168 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #5
May 25th, 1996
An exciting offensive player hailing from the Czech Republic, Pastrnak is a kid who loves playing with flair and living dangerously with the puck. He thrives in situations where he can stickhandle his way into the offensive zone and dish off the puck first when he feels fit. He also doesn’t hesitate to rag and drag the puck all around the offensive zone until his hockey sense and creativity kick in to create a strong scoring opportunity. Like Vrana, he’s taken the Swedish rout and has spent two seasons playing for Sodertalje, having lined up with William Nylander for parts of this past season.
This past season, Pastrnak took on a key role for the Allsvenskan club, scoring eight goals and 24 points while collecting 24 penalty minutes and a +7 rating in just 36 games. Things didn’t go nearly as well for him at the U20 level, only having scored one goal, two points, and collecting a -6 rating in three games.
Very agile in making his twists and turns, especially when he has the puck, the fearless forward also played at the U20 WJC and U18 tournaments, having made a bigger impact in Malmo than fellow countryman Vrana. There, Pastrnak had a goal and two assists, including a huge OT penalty shot goal that sank Canada. Gaining silver at the U18, he often looked a bit out of gas and lacking in the creativity department after a long season, but was still important in chipping in five assists and a +1 rating in those seven games.
A player who likes to hound opponents, especially defensemen, in forcing turnovers, Pastrnak looks ready to pounce on them in the hope of creating two-on-one or breakaway situations. He loves the game and clearly is a kid with a generally positive attitude and a readiness to make the most of his future. He’s currently scheduled to return to Sodertalje next season and is generally thought to be a player who will need to bulk up considerably for an NHL career.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 25-35.
5. Adrian Kempe – F – Shoots: Left – 6’2”, 187 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #6
Sep 13th, 1996
The second highest ranked Swedish-born player in this draft, Kempe brings the type of game that is sought after by just about every club. A good-sized winger with a frame ready for more weight, he just spent the bulk of this past season in the SHL, made possible by his ability and willingness to do whatever the coach asked of him, taking on a primarily third- or fourth-line role. In 47 total SHL contests, Kempe had five goals, 12 points, and a +5 rating. Active in all three zones and showing no hesitation to use his body in many capacities, the confident forward plays with a swagger that shows no doubts in his capabilities and future goals moving forward.
In addition to his SHL play, Kempe also had four goals and 21 points in 25 total U20 league games for the organization, also collecting a +8 rating. Kempe plays with a mean streak and shows a strong distaste for losing. A speedy north-south winger, he skates with a fluent stride and shows a strong ability in lateral movement as well. He played amongst Sweden’s top six at this past U18 and chipped in a goal and seven points in seven games. Notable were his 16 penalty minutes in those seven games.
With room to improve with respect to his shot and technical capabilities, Kempe has the speed, attitude, and physical capabilities to etch out an NHL career in a few years. He is scheduled to again spend next season with MODO of the SHL.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 25-35.
6. Marcus Pettersson – D – Shoots: Left – 6’3”, 165 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #7
May 8th, 1996
A very tall, intelligent defenseman who has a long reach and rarely allows opponents to get around him, Pettersson has really arrived on the scene this year after only having switched to defense at 16.
Coming from the talent-rich Skelleftea system, Pettersson just gobbles up opposing forwards as they try to pass him or enter his defensive zone. He uses his sizes effectively in orchestrating a very effective pokecheck. Despite his size and lankiness, he’s got both good east-west as well as backwards mobility. His first pass is almost always on the money and he doesn’t hesitate to curl the puck back into his zone to regroup when necessary, showing the type of awareness you’d expect of someone who’s been a forward for the majority of his life.
Entering the season, there was little known about the giant until he started becoming dominant at the U20 level, displaying above average offensive instincts in all three zones, while being unbeatable in his own. In 40 total games, he posted four goals, 18 points, and +4 rating. He also managed to get into 10 SHL games, posting a +2 along the way. He was then a logical choice for his nation’s U18 team, getting a goal and +1 rating in seven games.
Enticing for the scouting community is how physically impressive and intelligent Pettersson is while posing a frame that is ripe for up to another 50-some pounds in the coming years. His developmental curve has also been extremely impressive as he irons out holes in his game at a rapid rate. Ultimately, it’s been felt that Pettersson could wind up being a top-flight defenseman in the NHL within the next five years once he’s physically matured. He is expected to remain with the Skelleftea program next season, likely battling for a spot in the SHL.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 27-35.
7. Sebastian Aho – D – Shoots: Left – 5’9”, 165 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #9
Feb 17th, 1996
If you’re looking for one of the most difficult reads in this draft, look no further than Sebastian Aho, not to be confused with the highly ranked 2015 Finnish prospect of the same name. A puck-mover with good vision and the ability to find teammates over the stretch of several zones, Aho is very crafty with his stick and exudes confidence. He also likes to go on the rush with the puck and enter the opposition zone. Aho spent this past winter becoming a more well-rounded power play point man and even found his way into 21 SHL games, where he played for the league's best team with a maturity few do at his age. It is namely this showing that has scouts believing Aho’s just ‘got it’ when it comes to being able to play this game despite a size that would not be ideal for a forward, much less a defenseman.
After collecting seven goals, 23 points, and a +11 in 27 U20 league games, Skelleftea decided to give Aho a shot in the SHL and he never looked back. His play was so impressive in showing no fear to get involved and apply his body in the process while also displaying a strong readiness to block shots and apply whatever weight he has to play defensively, that he began taking a regular shift. He went on to gather one goal, five points, and a -3 rating in 34 games in winning his first SHL championship.
Skelleftea expects Aho in the SHL lineup next fall. His season ended with four games for Sweden at the U18 WC coming off a bit of an injury. There, he wasn’t able to change the tide for his club in the playoffs, but put up two goals and a +1.
Ask folks around Sweden and some will say only Nylander is a better, more skilled player in this class than Aho. Despite this, there’s just no doubting that teams will likely hesitate using a lower round pick on a defensemen of this size. He should be taken, though, as there’s just too much potential in that small body, and what he showed this spring will surely have shown a number of scouts that Aho has a future in the NHL.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 110-130.
8. Jonas Johansson – G – Catches: Left – 6’4”, 200 lbs.
CSS European Goalie Rank – #2
Sep 19, 1996
It was a big year for the tall Johansson, who carried the load for Brynas’s U20 program before getting four games for the big club. He impressed in those four games, putting up a 2.96 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. These numbers were fairly similar to those he put up in 23 games for the U20 team, where he gathered a 2.32 goals-against and a .911 save percentage. Most impressive is how consistent these numbers were throughout the season, bringing pretty much the same performance night for night. He did appear a bit challenged at the U20 WJC, however, where he had a 3.71 goals-against average and .875 save percentage in three outings. His job there was clearly and quickly lost to Oskar Dansk. The year before, Johansson was very strong at the U18 in Sochi, putting up a 2.23 goals-against and .931 save percentage.
Some feel he’s been surpassed this summer by Djurgarden’s Linus Soderstrom, but many see him as having steadily and effectively worked his way into becoming a very solid goaltender with true long-term #1 potential.
Despite his size, Johansson is still quite agile and moves quickly. He is currently expected to spend all of next season with Brynas in the SHL.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 90-120.
9. Adam Ollas Mattsson – D – Shoots: Left – 6’4”, 216 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #15
Jul 30, 1996
Coming into the season, it was felt that Mattsson just might be Sweden’s top defensive prospect this past winter. Unfortunately for him, an average Ivan Hlinka tournament and then a few injuries early on in the season kept him out of the draft talk for a good long while. Once he did get back into the swing of things, he managed a goal, nine points, 42 penalty minutes and a +2 rating in 33 U20 games for Djurgarden, before contributing two assists and a +3 rating in six games for the Allsvenskan club. A very tall defender with good weight and some real snarl, he was then selected to represent his country at the U18 and had a solid showing. There, he posted one goal, three points, and a +2 rating in seven games.
Mattsson is a player who seeks physical play in solving problems and handling defensive situations in his zone. He loves to give it to smaller forwards who challenge him and think they can slip by him by taking the low route. Mattsson likes to put his long reach to good use, constantly bothering opposition attackers, and pokechecking before attacking a player physically. It’s not certain where he'll will play next season, but it is felt that the second half of this past season has put him back into the second round of the upcoming draft.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 45-60.
10. William Lagesson – D – Shoots: Left – 6’3”, 203 lbs.
CSS European Rank – #18
Feb 22, 1996
A hulking defensemen already at the age of 18, Lagesson just completed a very fine season of development, improving in all categories. Having the size of a bruiser and thought to be more of a defensive defenseman coming into the season, Lagesson picked things up a notch in the offensive department, increasing his play in a goal-scoring capacity considerably. Defensively, he was off the charts for his age group, simply not allowing opponents to score on his watch. He spent four games with the Frolunda’s U18 team, putting up one assist and a +4 rating, then later skating in five playoff games, where he chipped in two goals and four points along with 10 penalty minutes. Most of his development took place with the U20 team, however, where he assumed top three rearguard minutes and contributed eight goals, 20 points and a whopping +27 rating, gaining another assist and +1 in three playoff games.
That this offensive growth came in conjunction with a take-no-prisoners game where physical play only gets Lagesson more involved didn’t go unnoticed by the national program. Taking on a top-four role at the U18, Lagesson contributed three goals and a +5 rating to what ended up being a fourth place finish. Still, he used this tournament to his advantage, showing he’s right there with other world class defenseman aged 18 or younger.
Lagesson was recently the Swedish player drafted the earliest by a USHL club (11th overall) and it is believed that he will be joining the Dubuque Fighting Saints on loan from the Frolunda organization next season.
Draft rank position prediction: Between slots 60-75.
Before delving into a few of this year’s first-time possibilities, two overagers simply have to be mentioned, namely WJC hero Lucas Wallmark and champion Skelleftea’s mighty mite Viktor Arvidsson.
Wallmark was skipped over in last summer’s draft despite displaying considerable hockey sense. It was felt that in addition to faulty skating and a general lack of size, the forward might have had a few issues outside of the rink. He spent this past winter proving otherwise, putting up eight points in 11 Allsvenskan contests before joining Lulea of the SHL for 41 games, where he contributed 10 points and some unexpectedly solid two-way play. His achievements got him a spot on the U20 WJC team, with which he won a silver medal and contributed three goals and eight points, proving to be one of the tourney’s top power play specialists. It’ll be interesting to see if any team is willing to take a chance on a kid who has proven himself capable of playing with professional men at a high level while being too good for boys in his age group.
The latter, Arvidsson, has represented his nation since the U16 level and has become one of Skelleftea’s top offensive weapons. This past season, he put up 16 goals and 40 points in 50 games before adding another four goals and 16 points in 14 playoff games, leading his team to the SHL championship. The skills and skating are definitely there, but at 5’9” and 175 pounds, NHL teams have just been too skeptical to date, although chances are that teams are well aware that he has a very good shot at being a player much like the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello at some point. Still draft-eligible, he has been invited to the Chicago Blackhawks' developmental camp. The Blackhawks also showed interest in his 19-year-old teammate Anton Lindholm, who spent the majority of the season with Skelleftea’s U20 team before being called up late for the playoff run, where he contributed a goal, three points and a +7 rating to the championship. Neither is drafted and NHL eyes have been placed on both.
In addition, the 19-year-old, 6’1” and 190-pound Arvid Lundberg was the last defensive cut from the U20 WJC squad and came out of nowhere this season to take a regular shift for Skelleftea in the SHL, for whom he gathered two goals, 10 points and a +17 rating. His on-ice intelligence, strong positioning, and heady two-way play has many thinking he ultimately can make his way to the NHL. 20-year-old defenseman Lukas Bengtsson, only 5’10” and 175 pounds, arrived on the scene big time this past winter with 15 goals and 38 points for Allsvenskan club Mora. These numbers were extremely impressive for a defenseman of any age, much less a kid of this stature. He’s scheduled to be with Mora again next season, but that could change quickly with the way the SHL is gobbling up young, impressive defensemen nowadays.
A few more overagers abound in the rankings including no less than Edwin Hedberg (regular shift and 10-point producer for MODO in the SHL), Victor Ejdsell (6’5”, 215 pounds with 32 points in 43 games for Farjestad’s U20 club), Hampus Olsson (6’5”, 212-pounder in the Rogle U20 system), Adam Brodecki (33 points in 32 games for Brynas’ U20 club), Tobias Liljendahl (6’2”, 200-pound 34-point center for Djurgarden’s U20), Ludvig Nilsson (regular Allsvenskan winger with Timra), Mattias Norstebo (sharp-skating Norwegian who played 17 games for Brynas in the SHL) and University of Minnesota-bound scorer Leon Bristedt (32 goals, 60 points in 43 games for Linkoping’s U20 club).
Other notable ranked players
A number of other names mark the lists of NHL teams and are even highly ranked by CSS amongst European skaters. Forward Anton Karlsson of Frolunda is ranked 11th overall and was thought to be a likely first rounder heading into this season. The burly winger was even the only 17-year-old skater to make the U20 WJC squad where he played sparingly, enjoying time with his brother Erik, a Carolina draft pick who had a regular third-line role for the silver medalists. Anton, however, had some injuries and only played sparingly for the U18 squad in Finland, where he failed to register a point and was even a -2. His season for Frolunda’s U20 squad wasn’t bad, but at less than a point-per-game, didn’t instill much faith in his offensive capabilities. Still, the 6’2”, 190-pounder plays a rough and tumble game and can be a handful for opponents. Expect to hear his name called in the course of the draft weekend.
He’s followed by a group of defensemen who may be going in the mid-rounds, namely Emil Johansson (CSS #12), Lawrence Pilut (CSS #16), Julius Bergman (CSS #19), Gustav Forsling (CSS #25), Andreas Soderberg (CSS #29) and Andreas Englund (CSS #30).
With both Forsling and Englund having successfully been part of the U18 squad, for whom Forsling actually put up four goals, it’s possible that they are higher up on several NHL teams’ lists. Englund especially is a kid some feel might even be ahead of Ollas Mattsson and Lagesson after having played 29 games for Djurgarden in the Allsvenskan, helping the club gain promotion to the SHL. Each of the others has attributes and a season behind them that have, at times, raised eyebrows. At 6’4” and 202 pounds, some in the scouting community see great potential in Soderberg, yet another Skelleftea product who brings a solid defensive game with him and managed to spend just about the entire season with the U20 club as a 17-year-old, having first turned 18 on the 16th of June. Also of note is that the 6’1”, 190-pound Bergman tore it up with Frolunda’s U20 club, gaining a +13, 13 goals and 35 points in 48 games which earned him a call-up for one game of SHL play with Frolunda. Both Johansson and Pilut come from the HV71 system and had fine seasons for the club’s U20 program, with Pilut actually finding his way into 28 SHL games, gathering four assists along the way.
Up front, there are a few names that may be called in the latter rounds, with Oskar Lindblom (CSS #23) being the most prominent. Entering the season, it was felt that the 6’2”, 187-pound winger might be able to crack the first round, but he seemed to hit a bit of a wall in the course of the season so there are a number of questions about his overall package heading forward. Of course, the complementary-style winger got into four SHL games for Brynas and put up a total of 27 goals, 53 points, and a +15 rating in a total of 56 junior games with the program before adding three goals, six points and a +5 rating at the U18 WC.
Also easily noticed at that tournament were the hulking 6’1”, 198-pound Daniel Muzito Bagenda (CSS #33) and 6-foot, 198-pound Axel Holmstrom (CSS #90). The latter played a good bit with Nylander at the tourney and put up three goals, 11 points, and a +8 rating. This came on the heels of 38 points in 35 U20 games for Skelleftea (+18 rating), which earned him a call-up to the big league for four games, where he failed to register a point. His sometimes unnoticeable play just doesn’t get in the way of him making smart, effective decisions. One also can’t forget that a midseason injury put him off-track a bit, limiting how much the scouting community got to see of him. Muzito Bagenda is a bit of a banger who could stand to bang more. He has some skills and seems to understand the game well, but looks best suited to playing a physical, in-your-face style, which has served him well when he concentrates on that. Scoring hasn’t been his strong point yet (15 goals, 22 points in 44 U20 games for MODO), but he does look fully capable of developing into a more refined scorer.
Fans also shouldn’t be surprised if they hear the names Henrik Tornqvist (CSS #50), Kevin Elgestal (CSS #51), Kim Rosdahl (CSS #86), and Pierre Engvall (CSS #91) called over the course of the weekend, as each has made a name for himself at the U20 level this past season in Sweden and all but Ejdsell internationally as well.
Swedish goaltenders continue to be a commodity for NHL teams on the prospect front, but this draft doesn’t appear to provide many with the type of attention others have gotten in years’ past. Djurgarden’s Linus Soderstrom is the third-highest rated European goaltender and the teenager with the baby face is already an impressive 6’4” and almost 200 pounds. Playing for the organization’s U20 team, he put up a 2.61 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 23 regular season games, but only played one playoff game in which he put up a 4.00 goals-against. He did get the starting gig at the U18 and had a solid 2.33 goals-against average in six games, but only an .899 save percentage.
As highly ranked as Johansson and Soderstrom are, some hold Skelleftea product Jesper Eriksson in high regards. The average-sized goaltender is considered to have just about all the necessary tools to develop into a fine goaltender over time and his four-game playoff showing for the club’s U18 team saw him put up an outstanding 0.96 goals-against and .951 save percentage. Next season will be quite telling, but a club may very well have him on their map as of the fourth round.
As usual, there are another handful of Swedish players who are technically ranked and could very well be picked along the way.
AHL = American Hockey League
CSS = Central Scouting Service
SEL = Svensk Elitliga (Swedish Elite League)
SHL = Svensk Hockeyliga (Swedish Hockey League)
Allsvenskan = 2nd highest level of men’s professional hockey in Sweden
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