1. Mikael Backlund, F, Västerås (6’0, 194 lbs)
A year ago Mikael Backlund was thought of as a top 5 pick, but now his stock has fallen. He has had problems with his development during the past year, mainly because of knee problems. Luckily, he had a good finish, being one of Sweden’s top players in the U18 WJC. The high-scoring center had 6 goals and 1 assist in 6 games, which made him the top goal scorer in the tourney.
Backlund has above-average skating ability, is strong physically and somewhat aggressive. He is also equipped with good hands and hockey sense. His technical skills along with his passes and goal scoring ability make him an intriguing prospect. He could, however, work on his defensive game and consistency.
2. Lars Eller, F, Frölunda (6’0, 198 lbs)
One of many talented draft-eligible players from Frölunda’s championship winning junior team is this super-skilled Danish forward. Eller has decent size, is a good skater with very good technical skills. He also works hard and is in general very well-rounded as a player. His scoring touch is pretty good, but Eller is much more noticeable as a playmaker. He has really good hockey sense and has that special ability to find openings that few other players can.
He plays a good two-way game, but could still use some fine-tuning in his defensive game and play without the puck. He’s a team player who is expected to be one of Denmark‘s top forwards in the future. He’s expected to a have a fourth line SEL role next season, or be sent on loan to the Swedish second tier league.
3. Simon Hjalmarsson, F, Frölunda (5’11, 161 lbs)
A very well-rounded player, Hjalmarsson stands out with his speed, technical skills and intensity. He’s a good goal scorer with a quick release and above average playmaking ability who has so far produced at all levels. He was among the very best players in the Swedish U20 league this past season scoring 54 points in 41 games. Although he has plenty of flash offensively, Hjalmarsson is also a hard worker with excellent attitude and penalty killing ability. He needs to become stronger.
4. Joakim Andersson, F, Frölunda (6’2, 198 lbs)
Andersson is a very complete two-way center in the Samuel Påhlsson mold. It’s a comparision that has come up frequently the last two years, as Andersson has emerged as a top prospect. He has very good size and strength and leadership abilities, is aggressive and pretty physical, but could still play the body even more. His hockey sense is very good and playmaking ability above average. A good penalty killer and defensively the best draft-eligible Swedish forward this year. The knock on Andersson is his skating and mobility. Not the slowest of skaters by any means, but his acceleration could use some work.
5. Nichlas Torp, HV71, D, (5’11, 194 lbs)
Torp was arguably the top Swedish defenseman born in 1989 a year ago, but his development has been mediocre this season, mainly because Torp missed the first half due to injury. As a player, he stands out with his physical and aggressive play. He has good timing in his hits and loves to deliver a good check when given the opportunity. He plays somewhat dirty at times and agitates the opposing players frequently. His mobility is decent, but hockey sense and offensive awareness average. He has a pretty powerful slap shot and is a good leader.
6. Jens Hellgren, D, Frölunda (6’3, 187 lbs)
A big defenseman, Hellgren had a rather mediocre season in the Swedish junior league, but has many qualities that could make him a high-caliber defenseman in the future. His hockey sense and on-ice vision are good and passing game fairly well-developed. Has good offensive instincts. Skating is smooth for a big guy. Defensively, Hellgren does not play simple enough, and plays inconsistently. He needs to become stronger and develop his physical game also.
7. Oscar Eklund, D, Djurgården (6’0, 185 lbs)
A very interesting and underrated (by the major scouting services) two-way defenseman who was overlooked last year. He’s not very tall at 6’0, but has a good understanding of the game and is very sound defensively. Makes smart decisions with and without the puck and rarely gets caught off-guard. Not overly flashy, although being a very capable passer with some scoring ability. His mobility and skating are good, so are his offensive instincts.
8. Andreas Thuresson, F, Malmö (6’2, 194 lbs)
Nineteen-year old Andreas Thuresson was slightly surprisingly overlooked last year. He’s a two-way player who shoots right, has good size, is aggressive and plays physical and has decent offensive skills. Likely to become a very capable role player at high level. Scored impressive 10 goals and 5 assists as a SEL rookie with Malmö this past season.
9. Mark Owuya, G, Djurgården (6’2, 192 lbs)
Not as skilled as last year’s top goalie from Sweden, Buffalo draft pick Jhonas Enroth, but still a pretty interesting player. To describe Owuya as a goaltender is not very easy. A butterfly goalie with a technique that is not very developed nor pretty, but he has good attitude, self confidence and stops the pucks, which it all is about in the end. He has a lot of advantage being of large size (6’2) and is pretty good at moving side-to-side. Has problems with high shots. Agility could still be better.
10. Patrik Lundh, F, Malmö (5’10, 168 lbs)
A great team player and leader. Stands out with first-class skating skills. Accelerates incredibly well and since he is also equipped with above average technical skills, it is quite difficult to stop him when he starts stickhandling in high speed. Known for his fine attitude and willingness to improve. Has some offensive instincts, including a strong passing game, but is still perhaps more likely to become a hardworking role player in the Per-Johan Axelsson mold in the future.
Honoroble mention: Johan Alcén, Joel Gistedt, Christian Engstrand, Mattias Modig, Linus Omark, Thomas Larsson, Kristoffer Berglund, Alexander Deilert, Patrik Zackrisson, Martin Johansson, Sebastian Erixon, Martin Laumann Ylven, Oliver Lauridsen, Christian Engstrand
Preliminary 2008 NHL Draft Top 10
1. Mattias Tedenby, F, HV71
2. Johan Motin, D, Färjestad
3. André Pettersson, F, HV71
4. Mikkel Bödker, F, Frölunda
5. Anton Gustafsson, F, Frölunda
6. Emil Bejmo, F, Färjestad
7. Johan Erkgärds, F, Färjestad
8. Philip Larsen, D, Frölunda
9. Lucas Sandström, F, Mora
10. Jesse Turkulainen, D, Södertälje
Preliminary 2009 NHL Entry Draft Top 10
1. Victor Hedman, D, MODO
2. Anton Lander, F, Timrå
3. Anton Mylläri, D, Västerås
4. Magnus Pääjärvi, F, Timrå
5. Jacob Josefsson, F, Djurgården
6. Patric Cehlin, F, Djurgården
7. Henrik Björklund, F, Färjestad
8. William Wallén, F, Djurgården
9. Casper Carning, F, Frölunda
10. Marcus Johansson, F, Färjestad
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