Elite Prospects’ 2004 NHL Entry Draft ranking continues with the players ranked 21-25.
The ranking and the profiles have been compiled by Johan Nilsson, Anders Östberg, Tomas Berg and Zoran Manojlovic.
#25 – Patrik Hersley
Hersley was a regular with the Swedish junior team up until this season. He missed a lot of games due to an injury and did not manage to regain his roster spot before the U18 World Junior Championships.
Hersley is a big and strong defenseman. He is quite reliable in his own end and handles the physical play very well. His slapshot from the blue is hard and
accurate and his passing game is good too. Furthermore he reads the game well and has good mobility. Hersley’s has had some problems with injuries keeping him out of play, but when healthy he has been a consistent performer.
Hersley will continue his development in the junior league next season, but could get some call-ups to MIF’s SEL team.
#24 – Gary Lundsten
Lundsten is a strong defenseman
who has yet to dress with the Swedish national team. He is quite unnoticed
coming off a strong season in the junior league with MODO where top prospect Oscar Hedman received most of the attention. Lundsten is in no way a flashy player. He relies on his way of reading the game and is very strong positionally. He is at home in the defensive zone where he despite not being a great skater usually is
in the right place and making safe and good decisions. As the season progressed so did Lundsten. He looked very good in the
U20 playoffs and helped his team to win the championship title.
#23 – Niklas Olausson
An offensively gifted player that has been very impressive in the Swedish third tier league playing against men. Olausson has been considered a talented prospect since the age of 15. He had a big breakthrough this season averaging more than a point per game with Tingsryd and being among the top scorers in the league at the tender age of 17. Once considered a rather one dimensional player, Olausson has improved his defensive game considerably and now contributes at both ends of the ice. In the offensive zone he can be spectacular at times putting up nice moves and being creative with the puck. He showed a good understanding of the game, a pretty sharp release and a fine passing game, playing with veterans Anders Åkesson and Larry Pilut on Tingsryd’s
top line this season. Olausson was on the Swedish U18-team in the World Junior Championships and added an assist in
six games. He is still has a contract with Tingsryd, but next season will most likely be his last one in the third tier league and in a year we could possibly find him fighting for a roster spot in the Swedish Elite League.
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#22 – Anton Axelsson
Being the younger brother of Boston’s Per-Johan Axelsson, hockey has always been a natural part of Anton Axelsson’s life. He has been considered a very good prospect for several years and performed well on every level he has played. This season was somewhat disturbed due to injuries, but Axelsson had a strong finish which almost took him all the way to the U18 World Junior Championships. Axelsson plays in many ways very similar to his older brother. He is a very good skater, hardworking, excellent defensively and very loyal to his team.
He’s a team player who can contribute offensively as well. He has a nose for the net and can
set up his team mates with nice plays also. The competition for a regular spot in the SEL is very tough in Frölunda. It is not very likely that Axelsson will get plenty of shifts at the highest level next season. He will however be a
key player for Frölunda’s junior team, both defensively and offensively.
#21 – Tom Linder
Linder is an enormous defenseman who has played his first season against men in the Swedish 2nd-tier league. While he was benched on several occasions, his ice time increased as the season progressed and so did the quality of his play. At 6’6 Linder is among the biggest defensemen playing in Sweden and weighing close to 220 lbs he is not an easy piece to move.
With his large stature some advantages come naturally — he has great reach, is steady in front of the net and in the corners. While having been given a much more offensive role with the juniors, Linder has mostly played it safe and taken care of the defensive responsibilities with the seniors. He does not make a lot of mistakes, but naturally lacks some of the experience needed to be able to contribute offensively at this level. Linder has the potential to become decent offensively as he has good hockey sense and reads the play well. Like for most defenseman of great size, there is always room for improvement in the skating and mobility department. As for next season Linder has been given until July 1 to decide whether to continue playing with Oskarshamn or moving over to the US and play hockey in college.