Elite Prospects’ 2004 NHL Entry Draft ranking continues with the players ranked 6-10.
The ranking and the profiles have been compiled by Johan Nilsson, Anders Östberg, Tomas Berg and Zoran Manojlovic.
#10 – Fredrik Näslund
|HEIGHT:||193 cm / 6’4″|
|WEIGHT:||94 kg / 207 lbs|
Prior to this season this big winger had not seen any senior action, but Västerås’ coach Pär Bäckman played him in a good amount of games and Näslund displayed flashes of brilliance. As the season progressed Näslund saw more and more ice time in the U18 junior league where he clearly was on another level than most of the opposing forward. He scored 12 goals and 15 assists in 14 games and was basically unstoppable on the ice, but then again it should be mentioned that many players in the league were younger and he had another intensity level since he had already played in the 2nd-tier league. In the U18 World Junior Championships Näslund was quite anonymous and did not really do anything to improve his stock for the draft.
He is an offensively very skilled player. Näslund has great size and is a quite fast skater when he reaches full speed. When he skates with the puck he is tough to stop and has a good scoring touch. He has also good technical skills and reads the game well. However, he has some work to do with his defensive game and his consistency.
Näslund should be ready to be a full time regular in the second tier league next season. At 6’4” he is among the biggest players in the league and with a good linemates he will be able to show off more of his offensive side next season.
|Västerås IK Ungdom||Swe-2||32||2||4||6||0|
|Västerås J18||J18 Allsvenskan||14||12||15||27||6|
|Team Sweden U18||WJC-18||6||0||1||1||4|
#9 – Fred Wikner
|HEIGHT:||186 cm / 6’1″|
|WEIGHT:||84 kg / 185 lbs|
Fred Wikner received a lot of attention during the yearly prospect tournament “TV-Pucken” three years ago. He was very dominant playing on the same line as his twin brother John.
As he entered the junior league the expectations were high on Wikner, but he struggled initially and did not see a lot of ice time in the U20 league last season. This season however, he saw a good amount of ice time and although having a somewhat inconsistent season he did a good job. He had his best performance, very convenient, in the U18 WJC where he notched 4 assists in 6 games.
Wikner is among the more physical Swedish players eligible for the draft. He is as tough as they come and loves to throw his body around. Looking at his size he is hardly a giant at 6’1” but is very powerful and strong nonetheless. Wikner is also a very good skater, a good passer and a pretty good stickhandler. His wrist shot is accurate and he could become a good scorer in the future although he has yet to demonstrate any real offensive flair.
He will continue to play in the junior league with his twin brother and should be among the better players on the team coming next season.
|Team Sweden U18||WJC-18||6||0||4||4||12|
#8 – Emil Axelsson
|HEIGHT:||190 cm / 6’3″|
|WEIGHT:||90 kg / 198 lbs|
Emil Axelsson was virtually unknown before this season. He had been playing tier II junior hockey but was now ready to play for Örebro in the 2nd-tier league. Axelsson quickly displayed a good overall game along with his young teammate Carl Gunnarsson, who is eligible for the 2005 Entry Draft.
Axelsson is an aggressive defenseman that definitely does not shy away from the rough stuff. He enjoys using his body as much as possible and sometimes his stick too as he gives cheap shots from time to time. Being of such a large stature he is a quite capable skater and he doesn’t hesitate to join the rush.
During the U18 World Junior Championships Axelsson’s team Örebro was relegated from the second tier league and he has now moved to Linköping where he will chiefly play in the U20-league. The competition for a roster spot in the SEL is tough and he will fight for ice time with talented defensemen such as Albin Lorentzon and the previously mentioned Carl Gunnarsson, who has also singed with Linköping.
|Team Sweden U18||WJC-18||5||0||0||0||8|
#7 – Richard Demén-Willaume
|HEIGHT:||190 cm / 6’3″|
|WEIGHT:||90 kg / 198 lbs|
At the start of the season Demén-Willaume’s was considered the arguably best Swedish prospect eligible for the draft along with Johannes Salmonsson. He also started out great in the junior league with Frölunda, but as the season progressed he became more defensive and did not show as much offensive flair as before. Demén-Willaume represented team Sweden in the U18 WJC scoring a goal and an assist and he was for the most part paired up with top defenseman Oscar Hedman.
Demén-Willaume uses his great size and is a very steady two-way defenseman. He is mobile, a good stickhandler and has an accurate slap shot. He combines a strong passing game with good positioning on the ice. Demén-Willaume has good offensive potential and as he gets more experienced he will display an even more well-rounded offensive game. As for weaknesses he doesn’t have a major one but should like most players look to further develop most aspects of his game. Demén-Willaume has signed a youth contract with Frölunda’s SEL club, which means that he will likely see some shifts with the seniors. In the juniors Demén-Willaume will be the leader among Frölunda’s defenseman and potentially a top 3 defenseman in the U20-league.
|Team Sweden U18||WJC-18||6||1||1||2||10|
#6 – Mattias Hellström
|HEIGHT:||184 cm / 6’0″|
|WEIGHT:||86 kg / 190 lbs|
Despite not being the biggest offensive force, scoring "only" 14 points in the juniors, Hellström was still among the best players born 1986 in the league. He received tons of ice time and was used in all key situations. Throughout the season he was also a key player on the Swedish U18-team.
Hellström is a very capable two-way center with an excellent defensive game. He has great on-ice vision and work ethic. Hellström is very strong in most aspects on the game, but perhaps especially in shorthanded situations. He is good in the faceoff circle and strong on the puck. Hellström’s modest size may fool you, but he is not a soft player and he plays with a lot of character and heart. Offensively he is creative, strong at setting up plays and has fine technical skills.
He is expected to get some ice time on MODO’s fourth line next season. He was dressed at two occasions this season and being such a consistent and mature player Hellström should not have any problems getting used to the play in the elite league.
|MODO J18||J18 Allsvenskan||4||2||5||7||0|
|Team Sweden U18||WJC-18||6||0||2||2||2|