2016 NHL Draft: Asplund heads list of Swedish prospects as season winds down

By Chapin Landvogt

Jesper Bratt - AIK - Allsvenskan

Photo: AIK Stockholm forward and 2016 prospect Jesper Bratt (L) should be an important part of Team Sweden’s offense at the 2018 World Championship in April (courtesy of City-Press via Getty Images)

 

7. Sebastian Ohlsson – F (Winger)

Soon to be 19, Sebastian Ohlsson went undrafted last season despite two points in 10 SHL games and an impressive six-point performance in five U18 WC games. His 5’9”, 176-pound frame surely played a considerable role in his draft snubbing.

That may very well change this year, however. The slick and skilled winger kicked things off with 10 points in seven U20 games and gained promotion to the once again highly successful Skelleftea SHL lineup, which has dominated Europe in recent years, not only in success in the standings but also when it comes to introducing their home-grown talents into the lineup. Playing a number of roles depending on the health of the more experienced pros, Ohlsson has collected two goals, eight points, and a +3 rating.

Creative and daring, Ohlsson has the skill set to be a lot like many talented, smaller Swedes who just didn’t cut it in the NHL, such as Mattias Tedenby and Linus Omark. Nonetheless, one can imagine that a number of scouts will think about another highly skilled overager from Skelleftea, Viktor Arvidsson, when assessing Ohlsson’s possibilities.

8. Jesper Bratt – F (Winger)

For Jesper Bratt, this season was supposed to be his coming out party. Only 5’10” and 175 pounds, and a good friend to the aforementioned Kovacs, Bratt entered the pro ranks with an eye on duplicating what Kovacs did before him. It has gone exactly as planned, although the youngster with a nose for the net and a tough player to beat in the corner has spent just about all season with AIK Stockholm in the Allsvenskan having chipped in eight goals and 17 points with a +1 rating over 46 games. Still slight of frame, his ice time has come in waves and he has been gradually introduced to the pro game at various junctures.

No stranger to the international stage, Bratt collected five points in five games at the aforementioned Ivan Hlinka Tournament last summer, and a total of 11 points in 13 more U18 contests. Expect to see the left-handed shooter taking on a major role with Sweden’s U18 team this spring in North Dakota, where he will surely be looking to boost his draft stock.

9. Tim Wahlgren – F (Center)

Another Ivan Hlinka Memorial veteran, Tim Wahlgren turned that experience (0 points and a -4 in five games) into a sign of what he would need to work on this winter, and has been able to achieve his goals to date.

Sporting an average 6-foot, 180-pound presence on the ice, Wahlgren’s season has seen him coming out as one of the top U20 players in the country, having chipped in 19 goals and 42 points along with 55 penalty minutes and a +14 rating in just 37 U20 league contests. This production did not go unnoticed by his parent MODO club, a team that has struggled all season, with Wahlgren having suited up for seven SHL contests and collecting a goal in the process.

A lock for the U18 national team, Wahlgren will be looking to finally turn his SuperElit league production into an international thing as well. In 43 international outings for Tre Kronor, he has accumulated just eight points. Wahlgren will look to change that drastically in North Dakota.

10. Linus Weissbach – F (Winger)

For some, Linus Weissbach isn’t necessarily a prospect. A tiny tot at 5’9” and 154 pounds, the diminutive Weissbach can really move and has some tremendous puck skills at high speed.

After contributing two assists at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial, he headed back to a stacked Frolunda program and proceeded to etch his way into the top junior club’s roster, contributing 15 goals and 46 points in 41 games to date. Throw in his +18 rating and it is no wonder the club’s brass was impressed enough to give him a one-game look at the SHL level despite having one of the most stacked line-ups in the league.

For the playmaker who displays some incredible hockey sense, Weissbach will likely be joining several of the aforementioned prospects this spring to help get Sweden back into U18 medal contention.

Honorable mention

There is little doubt that Djurgarden U20 defenseman David Bernhardt, brother of Daniel Bernhardt, a current London Knight and 2015 New York Rangers fourth rounder, has been making some noise at the U20 level with 34 points and a +11 in 39 games. He is 6’3” and 203 pounds, and has pedigree but has yet to play a game for Sweden internationally. At the same time, overager Jonathan Leman is a veteran international and overager for this draft and is taking a regular shift in the Allsvenskan. Defensemen David Deutsch and Jacob Moverare have been followed for several years now and each played some solid hockey at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament last summer. Both are having a decent winter of development in the junior circuit.

On the goaltending front, both Malmo’s Tim Hultstrand and Orebro’s Daniel Marmenlind have been very strong at the U20 level. Marmenlind has been seen internationally for years now while Hultstrand will be making a bid for the U18 team this spring.

Up front, a number of forwards have been shining through with solid U20 league seasons and will likely be making their pro debuts soon, if they haven’t already. Several of the names to watch out for are Tim Soderlund, Simon Krekula, Oskar Stal Lyrenas, Oskar Steen, and overagers August Gunnarsson and Victor Ejdsell. In addition, the name Christopher Mastomäki is a name to keep an eye on. The 6’3”, 190-pounder is an overager who some were surprised to see go untaken last summer. He currently has seven points and a +11 rating in 43 games for Lulea in a lower-line role. This is of note as he was expected to solely take on a similar role this season in the lower-ranked Allsvenskan league.

Follow Chapin Landvogt on Twitter via @Csomichapin

 

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