Top Swedish prospects for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft

By Johan Nilsson





Untitled Document

Bergfors the top Swedish prospect

Last year Johannes Salmonsson and Carl Söderberg were the big names among
Swedish forwards for the 2004 Entry Draft. This year, Södertälje’s speedy forward Nicklas Bergfors is the player to watch. The technically skilled winger has had a good season,
scoring his first SEL goal ever and putting up respectable numbers in the top Swedish junior
league (34 points in 21 games). Bergfors also represented Team Sweden in U20 WJC as well as in the U18 WJC in April. In the latter tournament he was named to the tournament
All-Star team and broke the Swedish goal-scoring record netting six goals in seven games.

Bergfors is a fairly complete player, known for his great attitude and willingness to improve. He relies a lot on his speed, technical skills and hockey sense and is
a very gifted player offensively. On the downside he is, although strong, somewhat undersized and at times too
fancy, trying to put up some flashy offensive numbers instead of making the simple play. Bergfors is expected to establish himself as a regular SEL player next season along with the Slovenian top prospect Anze Kopitar who will also play with Södertälje’s senior team.

No clear cut No. 2

A year ago centermen Alexander Sundström and Tom Wandell were considered to be No. 1 and No. 2 behind Bergfors.
Since those two have barely played any games at all this season due to injuries, and are therefore not likely to opt in, there is no clear No. 2. Mattias Ritola is, however, an interesting two-way forward that is likely to be a first day draft pick. The 6’0, 192lbs winger scored 26 points in 27 games in the juniors this season splitting time between Frölunda’s and Leksand’s U20 junior teams. Some have questioned Ritola’s attitude, while others have stated the opposite. What is certain is that Ritola is a creative player with soft hands, good hockey sense and good penalty-killing skills. His scoring touch could use some improvement, though.

Three interesting physical defensemen

Three other players who could be drafted during the first day
are defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alexander Hellström and Christopher From-Björk. Hjalmarsson is the offensively gifted defensemen who likes to join the rush and shoot the puck. He also controls the physical aspect of the game and does not hesitate to play the body when given the opportunity. At times Hjalmarsson overworks the puck and gets lost in his defensive coverage, which is a reason why Hellström and From-Björk could be safer picks.

Hellström made his senior debut with Björklöven in the Swedish second tier league and did not look out of place at all. At 6’2 and 198lbs Hellström has plenty of size and strength to go and for a big man he is quite mobile. Hellström usually plays it pretty safe in his own end, but also likes to be part of the offensive element of the game and he is a capable puck carrier.

From-Björk could be the safest pick of the three.
He is a physical, defensive-minded defenseman who has had a good season with Djurgården in the juniors. Although From-Björk’s strength as a player is his distinct defensive play, he is not lost offensively and can contribute. He proved this in the U18 WJC when he scored
three goals in seven games and was arguably the most consistent Swedish defenseman.

Flashy Pettersson and Tough Dahlberg likely mid-round picks

Excluding Nicklas Bergfors, the right shooting winger Fredrik Pettersson is the flashiest Swedish player that is eligible to get drafted. The undersized 5’10 winger combines excellent speed and technical skills in a very impressive way. Pettersson is strong while entering the offensive zone in full speed and has a very
good slap shot, which he does not hesitate to use. In addition to being a quite productive player point wise, he has also proven to be a good leader and willing to play physical. His stock has, however decreased as of late, after an average U18 WJC tourney where he ‘only’ scored a goal and
two assists in seven games.

6’2 winger Johan Dahlberg is the toughest and most physical Swedish forward eligible to get drafted. The hard-hitting MODO prospect is known for his hot temper and could be a successful agitator/role player in the making. Even though Dahlberg, who should be a rather safe pick and an outside candidate to be drafted during the first day of the draft, will likely never become an offensive star, he is a decent goal scorer and can chip in offensively though
is not the best of stickhandlers.

Take a chance on Hersley

Patrik Hersley, a 6’2 and 205 lbs
defenseman with an
’86 birthdate, a large
part of the 2003-04 season due to injuries. He has been healthy this season and performed convincingly in the juniors, as well as with the Swedish U19 team. Hersley amassed
eight goals and 14 assists in 31 junior league games and is a physical defenseman with fine offensive tools. He has a great shot from the point, soft hands and good hockey sense. Furthermore Hersley has good timing and power in his hits, but tends to overwork the puck in his own end at times. Overall
he is a very capable defenseman who is entertaining to watch, not only while joining the rush in full speed, but also when laying out opponents with big hits.

Smart center from Frölunda

Not overly flashy, or the most offensively skilled Swede available, Frölunda’s Sebastian Karlsson is a reliable center with great smarts and defensive skills. Karlsson is the younger brother of former LA Kings first rounder Jens Karlsson. He is a skilled playmaker, a capable skater and stickhandler and has
an admirable work ethic. Karlsson scored 29 points in 27 junior league games this season and is expected to see some ice time in the SEL next season.

Another player who could be drafted in the
mid-late rounds is defenseman Anton Strålman who opted out of the draft last year. At 6’0 and 176lbs Strålman is not a giant and needs to bulk up in order to be successful at highest level in Sweden,
where he is heading after a fine season in the Swedish second tier league. Strålman has a good point shot, plays a smart passing game and is fairly reliable defensively although not being the strongest of players. His physical game is somewhat inconsistent and
needs to work on improving the timing in his hits. His hockey sense, smarts and offensive skills makes Strålman, who is set to make his SEL debut with Timrå in September, an interesting prospect.

 

Top 10 Swedes for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft

#
Player
Pos
TeamBornHtWtL/R
1)
Nicklas Bergfors
F
Södertälje1987-03-076’0198R
2)
Mattias Ritola
FLeksand1987-03-146’0192L
3)
Niklas Hjalmarsson
DHV711987-06-066’1187L
4)
Alexander Hellström
DBjörklöven1987-04-176’2198L
5)
Christoffer From-Björk
DDjurgården1987-03-286’2194L
6)
Fredrik Pettersson
FFrölunda1987-06-105’10173R
7)
Johan Dahlberg
FMODO1987-02-036’2192L
8)
Patrik Hersley
DMalmö1986-06-236’2205R
9)
Sebastian Karlsson
CFrölunda1986-09-196’0187L
10)
Anton Strålman
DTimrå1986-08-016’0176R

Just outside the top 10

#
Player
Pos
TeamBornHtWtL/R
 
Niklas Bröms
F
Leksand1986-03-256’2176L
 
Niklas Andersson
DBrynäs1986-03-056’1187R
 
Mattias Hellström
CMODO1986-06-186’1190L
 
Daniel Åhsberg
FFrölunda1985-04-146’0174L
 
Patrik Zackrisson
CFrölunda1987-03-275’11176L
 
Alexander Ribbenstrand
DDjurgården1987-01-096’0187L
 
Oscar Sundh
FAlmtuna1986-10-226’2185L
 
Christopher Thörn
FDjurgården1986-07-206’3190L

Other Notables

#
Player
Pos
TeamBornHtWtL/R
 
Goalies
     
 
Mattias Modig
GLuleå1987-04-016’0163L
 
David Rautio
GLuleå1985-07-085’11159L
 
      
 
Defensemen
      
 
Gustav Engman
DSpokane1985-01-176’2203L
 
Mattias Gudmundsson
DSkövde1986-02-236’1181R
 
Carl Gunnarsson
DLinköping1986-11-096’2181L
 
Albin Lorentzon
DLinköping1986-01-076’0192L
 
Linus Morin
DBrynäs1987-01-305’11176L
 
Axel Nordholm
DHV711985-04-306’4194L
 
Mattias Olsson
DMODO1987-01-206’2194R
 
Per Savilahti-Nagander
DLuleå1985-04-226’4214R
 
Fredrik Sontag
DSödertälje1987-04-026’1181L
 
Tobias Viklund
DMODO1986-05-085’11192L
 
Tommy Wargh
DMODO1986-12-195’10168L
 
Niklas Öhman
DMODO1987-01-086.0176L
 
      
 
Forwards
      
 
Erik Andersson
CHV711986-09-185’11179L
 
Johan Andersson
FSödertälje1987-05-025’10176L
 
Marcus Andersson
FÖrebro1987-01-296’0185L
 
Daniel Eklund
CLeksand1987-03-156’0170R
 
Martin Gudmundsson
FMora1986-08-215’10183L
 
Johan Harju
FLuleå1986-05-156’3203L
 
Patrik Hörnqvist
FDjurgården1987-01-015’11176L
 
Robin Lindqvist
CLuleå1987-08-166’1181L
 
Christofer Löfberg
FDjurgården1986-10-116’3194R
 
Andreas Molinder
CMODO1987-02-236’0161L
 
Jakob Mylläri
CVästerås1987-06-236’0190L
 
Johan Nilsson
FMODO1987-03-175’9176R
 
Niklas Olausson
FNyköping1986-05-126’0198L
 
Marcus Olsson
FMalmö1986-09-256’2190L
 
Johan Ryno
FOskarshamn1986-06-056’5194L
 
Kim Sunna
FBrynäs1987-06-145’11187R
 
Björn Svensson
FMoose Jaw 1986-06-166’0187L
 
Tomas Wallgren
CLuleå1986-05-186’0183L

Most likely to opt out due to major injuries

#
Player
Pos
TeamBornHtWtL/R
 
Alexander Sundström
C
Björklöven1987-03-146’0192L
 
Tom Wandell
CSödertälje1987-01-295’11165L

Preliminary 2006 Draft Ranking

#
Player
Pos
TeamBornHtWtL/R
1)
Niclas Andersén
D
Leksand1988-04-286’0201L
2)
Tony Lagerström
CSödertälje1988-07-196’0181L
3)
Patrik Berglund
CVästerås1988-06-026’3176L
4)
Niklas Bäckström
CBrynäs1987-11-236’0183L
5)
Jhonas Enroth
GSödertälje1988-06-255’10165L
6)
Erik Moe
DTimrå1988-03-065’11172R
7)
Stefan Ridderwall
GDjurgården1988-03-056’0181L
8)
Oskar Johansson
FTimrå1988-05-116’0172L
9)
Robin Figren
FFrölunda1988-03-075’10159R
10)
David Lidström
DVästerås1988-02-165’11165L

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future.  Do not
reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.