Predators Report: Swedish Prospect Update

By Brian Roe

Johan Nilsson, who is Hockey’s Future’s Swedish Editor, recently compiled a list of the Top 100 Swedish prospects. Five Nashville Predators’ prospects, including Jonas Andersson and Daniel Widing, were included on the list. Nashville is hoping some of these players can make an impact on the franchise in the future.

Twenty-year old forward Daniel Widing is considered the top Swedish prospect in the system for Nashville. Widing is ranked the highest of Nashville’s Swedish prospects, being ranked 22nd on this Top 100 list. The Predators like Widing’s work ethic and his attitude, but he tends to think too much, rather than react to a play. Widing has good speed and an above average shot, but lacks the necessary technical skills for a NHL forward. Scouts say that Widing has most of the skills needed to play the North American game, but he needs to improve his offensive game before making the jump to the NHL. Widing currently plays with Leksand in Sweden.

Nashville forward Jonas Andersson is another notable Swedish player in the Nashville system. Andersson, who currently plays with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, is rated 30th overall in the Swedish rankings. This ’99 second round pick has the size and speed to play in the NHL. Andersson is only 21 years old, but the Predators would like to see him in Nashville in the next 1-to-2 years. Andersson had his most successful year offensively during the 1999-2000 season, where he racked up 67 points in as many games for North Bay of the OHL. Andersson seems determined to make it to the NHL, and Nashville will give him every chance to make the team in the future. The new obstruction rules may work in Andersson’s favor because of the need for increased speed. Andersson, just like Widing, is a natural right winger.

Ranked 49th overall is center Gustav Gräsberg. The 19-year old Swede is a hard-nosed player who is at his best when attacking the net in the offensive zone. He is not considered an offensive specialist, but excels in the physical aspects of the game. Gräsberg is playing his first year for Hammarby, but a lack of ice time means the points are not coming easily this season. Gustav is a project at best, but is certainly a very talented player who has a chance to play in the NHL in the future.

Being 6’3″ certainly cannot hurt an aspiring NHL defenseman. Mattias Nilsson knows that size is working in his favor, but the 20-year-old needs some definite polishing before making it to the NHL. Nilsson is a solid two-way defenseman who put up good offensive numbers while playing in the Swedish junior league. His move up to a second-tier league has altered his offensive output somewhat, but Nilsson has the size and strength to keep things interesting. Nilsson is likely a long shot to make it to Nashville, but a breakout season is not out of the question. Mattias was ranked 72nd on the Top 100 listing.

Mats Christéen, an 8th round pick in the 2000 draft, was rated 74th overall, and is the final Nashville prospect to show up on the list. Christéen is an underrated defenseman who has shown some offensive capability early this season. The young defenseman recorded five points in eight games while skating with Södertälje’s junior team. Christéen should make the jump to the Swedish Elite League next season.

The North American game is different than the game played in Sweden. Jonas Andersson is a very talented player who was slower to adapt to the North American system. Andersson, however, still has tons of potential and could be in Nashville by season’s end; he certainly should be in competition for a roster spot next season in training camp. Widing has started this season slowly, but his talent is evident. He may also find that the North American style may require some adjustment to his style of play. Look for one of Andersson or Widing to be in Nashville, or used as trade bait, over the next couple of years.

Nashville has expectations for the Swedes, but realistically it would be a long shot for Nilsson, Christéen or Gräsberg to be in the Nashville rotation any time soon. Drafting-wise, Nashville’s Swedish scouting could be deemed a success if one of these three players makes it to Nashville.


Admirals Set Mark

The Milwaukee Admirals set a franchise mark by remaining undefeated in the month of October. The Admirals are the only undefeated team remaining in the American Hockey League, but they are second in their division behind the mighty Houston Aeros. The Admirals have allowed the fewest goals in the AHL (14), with the penalty-killing unit also ranked first in the league. The team saw 12 different players score goals, with rookie Darren Haydar registering a point in every game. Milwaukee will have a busy weekend ahead of them with games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Three Admirals Recalled

The Nashville Predators recalled forwards Wyatt Smith and Vern Fiddler, as well as defensemen Mark Eaton. Eaton and Smith, both 25, have played in the NHL in the past. Fiddler, 22, will be making his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators. The three players were recalled due to injuries to Vitali Yachmenev, Scott Walker and captain Greg Johnson.

Hall Playing Well

Adam Hall has been playing well since getting the call from Nashville. Hall has recorded two goals in six games this season. He is playing on Nashville’s only productive line, alongside the combo of David Legwand and Andreas Johansson.

Hot Prospects

Jordin Tootoo, Brandon (WHL)13 games, 23 points

Patrick Jarrett, Owen Sound (OHL)15 games, 17 points

Timofei Shishkanov, Quebec (QMJHL)9 games, 12 points

Brian Finley, Toledo (ECHL)4 wins, 1.82 GAA

Thanks to Johan Nilsson for providing information on the Swedish prospects