Sweden 2013 draft review

By Chapin Landvogt
Elias Lindholm - Carolina Hurricanes

Photo: The Carolina Hurricanes’ top pick at the 2013 NHL Draft, Elias Lindholm, was the first player from Sweden off the board (courtesy of Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

On June 30th, Sweden saw 25 of its citizens, two of which spent this past season in North America, and a total of 26 players from its own leagues picked by NHL teams at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Much as was suspected heading into the event, forwards Elias Lindholm (CAR), Alexander Wennberg (CBJ) and Andre Burakovsky (WAS) were the first three Swedes taken at this year’s draft, having been picked at spots 5, 14 and 23 respectively. All three have represented Sweden in international play and are expected to one day be able to assume a top-6 role at the NHL level, perhaps within the course of an entry level contract.

The all-around forward Lindholm just finished this past season as the third best scorer on his SEL team and on July 15th signed an entry level contract with the Hurricanes. He is widely considered a player who could be skating in North America as soon as next season.

Wennberg is scheduled to play in the SHL for Frolunda, but word is that the transfer payment to Alexander’s previous club, Djurgarden, has yet to be made and may not be until it is clear that Wennberg will not be spending this season in North America.

Burakovsky, who currently does not have a contract with his home team Malmo Redhawks was drafted by the Erie Otters in the 2013 CHL Import Draft, but was reportedly not expected to join the team for the upcoming season. However, seeing as how he hasn’t signed a deal with an SHL or Allsvenskan team for the 2013-14 season, and in light of the opportunity to play with wunderkind Connor McDavid, it is suspected that he is indeed leaning towards spending this season in North America despite the WJC taking place right there in his hometown of Malmo, Sweden.

In the second round, both forward Jacob de la Rose (MON) and defenseman Robert Hagg (PHI) were grabbed at spots 34 and 41 respectively, thus seeing the top five Swedish prospects heading into the draft having been gobbled up within the first 41 picks of the day, which was very much in accordance with where Hockey’s Future had them ranked to go in our draft preview.

The big-bodied De la Rose helped Leksand gain promotion this past season and was expected to remain with the club to play in the SHL, but he has since been drafted 11th overall by the Windsor Spitfires and is believed to be trying to get out of his current contract in order to spend next season in North America. The hardnosed Hagg was one of Sweden’s busiest prospects this past winter and is currently expected to play a bottom line role for Modo, managed by Markus Naslund and Peter Forsberg, in the SHL this fall.

Going next at spots 45 and 46 were Sweden’s North American contingent, one of which had spent this past season in the QMJHL and the other in the USHL. Quebec’s Nick Sorensen (who is the son of a Swedish mother and Danish father) was selected by the Anaheim Ducks right before the Minnesota Wild chose Gustav Olofsson, a defenseman who spent this past season with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers and is scheduled to suit up for Colorado College next fall.

Before round two had concluded, the Chicago Blackhawks had selected Carl Dahlstrom 51st while the Boston Bruins had taken Linus Arnesson 60th overall, both of whom are good sized defensemen who are felt to be very solid in their own end. With that, nine Swedes had been taken amongst the first 60 picks, a feat that had not been accomplished in the 2012 NHL Draft until midway through the fourth round.

The remaining Swedes taken throughout the draft are listed in the following chart:

No. Pos. Draft spot  Player                          2012-13 season      NHL Team
10   D      68               Niklas Hansson          Rogle Jr. U20            Dallas
11   G      78               Marcus Hogberg        Linkoping Jr. U20    Ottawa
12   C      79                Mat Janmark-Nylen   AIK                             Detroit
13   W     90                Peter Cehlarik            Lulea                         Boston
14   W     102              Tobias Lindberg        Djurgarden Jr. U20  Ottawa
15   D      111              Robin Norrell             Djurgarden Jr. U20  Chicago
16   G      117              Frederik Bergvik        Frolunda Jr. U20      San Jose
17   W     130              Gustav Possler           Modo Jr. U20            Buffalo
18   C      136               Vic Crus Rydberg       Linkoping Jr. U20     NY Islanders
19   D      145               Anton Cederholm     Rogle Jr. U20             Vancouver
20   W     149               Matej Paulovic           Farjestad Jr. U20      Dallas
21   C      155               Emil Pettersson         Timra                         Nashville
22   W     165               Markus Soberg          Frolunda Jr. U20      Columbus
23   W     180               Anton Blidh                Frolunda Jr. U20      Boston
24   D      183              Wilhelm Westlund     Farjestad                   Colorado
25   D      194              Marcus Karlstrom      AIK Jr. U20                Winnipeg
26   W     199              Hampus Melen           Tingsryd Jr. U20       Detroit
27   W     202              Andreas Johnson        Frolunda                   Toronto
28   D     211               Robin Press                 Sodertalje                 Chicago

Of the 26 players picked out of Sweden, two were Slovaks and one was a Norwegian. Whereas Lulea’s Slovakian forward Peter Cehlarik is expected to return to Lulea’s SHL club next season, Matej Paulovic was drafted eighth overall in the CHL Import Draft by the Peterborough Petes of the OHL and is fully expected to report to Ontario this fall. Norwegian winger Markus Soberg is expected to return to Frolunda where he’ll be an integral part of the U20 club, if not compete for a job with the men’s SHL team. Lastly, Robin Press of the Allsvenskan club Sodertalje had the dubious distinction of being picked last overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, thus earning the moniker as this year’s ‘Mr. Longshot’.

Also of interest is that several of these young men drafted as of the third round appear to be on their way to North America. The aforementioned Paulovic was drafted 8th overall in the CHL import draft by the Peterborough Petes and he is expected to report, with the Dallas organization having surely put in a word on this decision. Linkoping center Victor Crus Rydberg also appears to be heading to the Plymouth Whalers, who drafted him 41st overall, something that became apparent after a very productive prospect camp with the New York Islanders this past July. In addition, Anton Cederholm was taken 60th overall by the Portland Winterhawks, to whom he has confirmed that he will be reporting this fall.

What came as a bit of a surprise was the fact two of Hockey’s Future’s top 10 Swedish prospects were not taken in the draft, namely seventh-ranked overager Viktor Arvidsson, who spent this past season taking a fairly regular shift for SEL Champion Skelleftea while also contributing heavily to Sweden’s silver medalist WJC entry, and the slick, 10th-ranked Lucas Wallmark, a crafty playmaker who chipped in five points in five games for Sweden at the U18 tournament and is scheduled to suit up for Lulea of the SHL next fall. While Arvidsson appears to be a player who is of great advantage to a team concept, and his non-drafting may have had to do solely with his size, it seems as though Wallmark’s shot at getting drafted this summer may have been thwarted by considerable questions about his work ethic and ability to stay out of any off-ice drama.

Follow Chapin Landvogt on Twitter via @Csomichapin