9. Filip Ahl – F – Shoots: Left – 6’3”, 211 lbs.
CSS European Rank #9
Jun. 12th, 1997
We should begin with the interesting aspects of this clearly very large forward prospect. Filip Ahl skated in 15 SHL games for HV71 and collected two assists. He played a big role in the U20 circuit with 23 goals and 47 points in just 40 games. He also contributed five goals and nine points in four U18 playoff games for the boys from Jonkoping. This was then concluded by an overanxious disappearing act at the U18 WC, where he looked good at times in collecting three assists, but then looked uncontrolled at others, getting 16 penalty minutes and a gaudy -6 rating. In general, Ahl has the size teams crave as well as the ability to make things happen physically and with respect to his skill sets, but hasn’t yet shown that he can get his act together on a game-by-game basis.
Despite a large frame and sound skating, shooting and even passing skills, Ahl has yet to show that extra gear or the ability to pick up his game when the going gets tough. At times, his play can seem selfish or even self-absorbed, but there’s good reason to believe that a little mental alteration and further dedicated coaching can take his considerable size and skill package and lead Ahl to life as a power forward. He simply has some maturing to do at the pro level before we’ll really see just what his package can mean one day. His shot has attracted attention, as it can be hard and precise, but Filip needs to learn to get it off more quickly and more often.
A team will be happy to take a risk on him as of the third round, because you can’t teach size, but many other players of this ilk have failed to get their act together. HV71 will be happy to have Ahl suiting up for their organization for another season or two, before his NHL club will have to make a decision.
Draft rank position prediction: Between spots 70-110.
10. Jesper Lindgren – D – Shoots: Right – 5’11”, 161 lbs.
CSS European Rank #19
May 19th, 1997
Jesper Lindgren is a very clever, right-shooting defenseman who has a keen eye for pass stations, particularly in the offensive zone. Excellent at giving a deadly first pass and skating the puck out of his own zone, his desire to control things with the puck on his stick can get him into trouble. Giving the impression of being a bit on the small side, he does actually have average size but will need to add bulk in the years to come to withstand the checking pressure an offensive-oriented game like his will incur. Lindgren may be this year’s Sebastian Aho in a draft sense, but all the comparisons of him back home in Sweden to Erik Karlsson will likely see a team take him in a later round without hesitation.
As for his season, Lindgren did gather an assist in four games for a lousy MODO club, but the bulk of his good work was in playing for the organization’s U20 team, where he quarterbacked the power play with nary a pause. There, he had six goals and 34 points in 43 games to go along with a +7 rating. Also impressive were his goal and 11 points in just nine U18 games. Still needing to show that he can display his considerable stick-handling skills and attention to detail when facing upbeat, equal competition at the international level, Lindgren’s goal and two points in five games for Sweden at the U18 were just decent in light of a -2 rating. A slick skater moving forward, and adequate in his lateral movement, it’s hard to think Lindgren will be grabbed anywhere before round 5, but there is a good bit of skill to work with here.
Draft rank position prediction: Between spots 121-210.
The fact is, there will be a good number of other Swedes taken in this 2015 NHL Draft. One of the better mid-rounders will likely be HV71 junior and senior forward Kevin Stenlund, a big, mobile player who already plays a very mature and intelligent game. With one goal in 17 SHL games, he was asked to keep opponents off the scoreboard and play responsibly – something he did well – but he did collect 15 goals and 40 points in 42 U20 games, showing he does have some good offensive instincts. Of course, all this is enhanced considerably in scout’s notebook’s as he’s already 6’3” and 200 pounds.
Another big riser this winter was another Carlsson, namely defenseman Lucas Carlsson, who is a very agile defender with a bit of a flair for the dramatic. His best attributes are on the blueline where he likes to find players along the board while threatening to shoot, which is something he will do if he feels it’s a good option. Six feet and 187 pounds, Carlsson has already played 17 SHL games in which he collected one assist, but flashed most of his skills for the U18 team, where he managed 12 goals, 20 points, and a +15 in just 13 games. Most of his season was spent with the U20 junior team, where he collected six goals, 19 points and a +7 rating in 44 games. He finished the year with a goal and two points for the U18 team, and was one of the few Swedish players not to have a minus rating.
From an overage standpoint, it’s hard to look past 18-year-old Henrik Tornqvist, who had four points in 59 SHL contests for Linkoping in addition to 21 points in 24 U20 league games, and 20-year-old Adam Brodecki, who had 20 points in 54 games for Brynas. Both hovering around six feet in height, they’ve each etched themselves a regular shift in the SHL at a very young stage. Brodecki also chipped in two points and a +1 in six WJC contests. This also goes for 19-year-old Petter Hansson, a 6’1”, 187-pound defenseman who had an assist in 16 SHL contests with Linkoping while collecting a whopping 15 goals, 34 points and +26 rating in 39 U20 league games. Just about the same can be said for Olle Alsing, a 19-year-old who played 47 games for Almtuna in the Allsvenskan and collected 11 points while enshrining himself there as a top-four blueliner. He’s just 5’11” and 160 pounds, but moves extremely well and plays with the intelligence of a veteran. As able-bodied players with room to grow, all it takes is one team to like them.
As poorly as the U18 WC showing was for Sweden, it really wasn’t due too much for a couple of kids who’d likely not have been given that much of a look, namely Djurgarden junior scoring sensation Jonathan Davidsson, the highly sought after HV71 product Alexander Younan (now having signed with Frolunda), top-scoring U18 league junior Linus Olund, and perhaps even the unranked tiny tyke, Sebastian Ohlsson, who had six points at the tournament after a 10-game, two-point stint with Skelleftea in the SHL. Each gave scouts reason to believe that good things are to come of them. Their teammates Jonathan Leman (assistant captain), Gustav Olhaver (already 6’6”, 213 lbs.), and Lukas Zetterberg (a junior scoring success who also saw three games of Allsvenskan action) also have good reason to believe they are of interest to NHL teams, although each saw his respective CSS rankings drop since midseason.
For those who love the incredible amount of bloodlines in this draft, don’t allow yourself to be fooled by Fredrik Forsberg, Filip Forsberg’s little brother, who despite 36 points in 36 games for Leksand’s U20 program, just doesn’t have his brother’s drive or game, and that starts in the skating department.
Several foreigners in Sweden are also of interest to a number of teams. Slovak Christian Jaros is an overager who has spent two years in the Lulea program. This season, the defensive defenseman spent 25 games with the big club, contributing one assist and a -3. More importantly, though, was how poised and mature he was in helping Slovakia to a bronze medal at the WJC, where he posted a point and +2 rating in seven games. Heading into the season, Czech youngster Lukas Vopelka was considered quite a prospect. Having dropped a good bit in the standings, the 6’0”, 181-pounder put up 15 goals, 40 points, 63 penalty minutes and an impressive +21 in 33 U20 contests, having effectively had the kind of season that most kids his age would dream of. A lack of international play for the Czech Republic is the likeliest reason for him being ranked 72nd in Europe by CSS.
Last, we see year for year how Swedes who played primarily in the Swedish junior ranks are taken in later rounds by NHL teams and end up coming out of nowhere to impress within two year’s time. If you place any faith in what we’ve come to see, you should be mighty curious if your favorite team grabs any of 6’3”, 205-pound defensive defenseman Alexander Leandersson; Orebro’s 6’2”, 212-pound two-way defenseman Alexander Anderberg; Vasteras’ 13-time Allsvenskan skater who put up 41 U20 points in 38 games and weighs in at 6’3” and 192 pounds, Christopher Mastomaki; or the U20 champion Djurgarden’s prized junior scoring machines Lukas Vejdemo (6’2”, 192 lbs, 54 points, 55 penalty minutes, and +32 in 41 games) and Daniel Bernhardt (6’2”, 190 lbs, 65 points, 22 penalty minutes, and +24 in 51 games). Each of these players is expected to be lacing up for a pro club in Sweden next season and was dominating at their respective level for the U20 champions. Bernhardt saw action in two games with the SHL club while Vejdemo, had he not been injured several times and fairly ill for a stint, may have been the top scorer in the country at the U20 level.
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