Below I’ve written some words about a few Swedish prospects of very shifting talent and quality. I’ve chose five players; one center, two wingers and two defenders all located or born in the northern part of Sweden. The selection of the players is more or less random, but I wanted to get as many different types of players as possible represented.
JOHN WIKSTRÖM, 6’5″, 205 lbs, D, 300179, Luleå – 129th 1997, Detroit
HF Comments: John finished the past season in Mörrum (SWE 1st division) after a less successful attempt to play in North America. The season before, he tried out in Piteå HC, also 1st division, but didn’t make it so he was sent back to Luleå juniors. Already at the age of 17, he made his first appearance on the Luleå bench in the Elite League, but it seemed like he never got a chance to step out on the ice. Maybe if he would have, Detroit would have never drafted him, because Wikström has never made it in a senior team. Among juniors, such a big player may appear as dominating, but despite of his size, he is not a very physical player and not very trustable on his own blueline, concerning passing and quick change of play. I don’t know where John will play next season, but I do know that it is highly unlikely that he’ll ever make it to Detroit. Probably not even to the Swedish Elite League. Maybe he’ll be a solid defender in the Swedish 1st division one day.
PIERRE HEDIN, 6’3″, 200 lbs, D, 190278, MoDo – 239th 1999, Toronto
HF Comments: Hedin has always been a promising player and this year he finally got drafted. That is probably because he had a small break-through this season in MoDo and became an important part of the team’s blueliners. This is a player who has good awareness all over the ice. Like most MoDo players, he is a good skater and his size is not the best, not the worst, but somewhere in the middle for a coming NHL defenseman. The way there will be long for Hedin though, and I don’t think he’ll be a leaf in the closes years to come. Perhaps, if he continues to develop in MoDo and learns to play a more physical game, he won’t just be another Per Gustavsson in Toronto’s mind.
MATTIAS KARLIN, 6’0″, 195 lbs, W, 040779, MoDo – 54th 1997, Boston
HF Comments: Like the MoDo prospect above, Mattias Karlin is not a player who has reasons to be 100% certain to make it to the NHL. But then again, who has? His size is one thing that might bother him now when the NHL tend to get more and more physical. Still he is no chicken at all. The chances he has gotten in MoDo’s senior team he has taken and he is a very fun player to watch thanks to his speed and ability to create scoring chances. I think he could become an average NHLer one day since he is a pretty heavy guy although he is not the tallest. He is quick and has a good eye for the offensive game, but in order for him to continue towards the NHL, MoDo might need to give him more chances.
SAMUEL PÅHLSSON, 6’1″, 205 lbs, C, 171277, MoDo – 176th 1996, Colorado
HF Comments: “The New Peter Forsberg” is a player who originally is from Ånge, Medelpad, but moved to Örnsköldsvik when he was 15 to attend the hockey high school. His first season in the Elite League reminded a lot of Forsberg’s first season during which he spent a lot of time in the penalty box. In 91/92 Forsberg had 78 PIM and Samuel registered 80 96/97. Påhlsson is a player I’ve always been doubtful about, but I believe that during the 99 World Championships in Norway, he proved to be a very good all-round player on international level as well. Still I was expecting more of him in MoDo the past season, but he will definitely be a NHLer sooner or later although I don’t think he’ll be one of the great names like Forsberg is.
JONATHAN HEDSTRÖM, 6’2″, 195 lbs, W, 271277, Skellefteå – 221st 1997, Toronto
HF Comments: Jonathan got his definite break-through in Skellefteå AIK in 98/99 when he registered a lot more than one point per game and also had the best +/- in the team. Next season he’ll be playing in Luleå and I am sure he’ll be successful there as well. Though there are many things a lot more likely to happen than it is for Hedström to make it to the Maple Leafs, he may also be the new Wendel Clark they are missing one day. Since he is a very tough and fearless winger who is capable of being dirty if he has to and also an able scorer and passer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the Leafs in a few years.