Draft Eligible Nils Höglander is making pro strides for SHL’s Rögle
December and January are interesting months when it comes to prospects tuning their craft in professional European leagues. With the World Juniors in mid-swing to start off the New Year, many teams lose their talented young players for those exciting few weeks. Upon completion of the tournament, one often finds that team dynamics have changed and there are new roles, new expectations, and at times, a reduced opportunity when the juniors return home.
For the upcoming 2019 NHL Entry Draft, this year’s Swedish crop lacks a major presence in both the SHL and the Allsvenskan. As highlighted in our January report, there is the bigger name defenseman, Philip Broberg (AIK, Allsvenskan) and Victor Soderstrom (Brynäs, SHL) playing fairly key roles for their clubs. Sure, we definitely see other notable draft-eligible players getting a few cups of coffee in the SHL (e.g. Tobias Bjornfot, Simon Holmstrom), however, there is a lack of punch in either league in terms of the upcoming draft. Albin Grewe and Nils Höglander are the only two first-year draft-eligible forwards playing (arguably) significant minutes. In the forward ranks, this is not a strong draft for the Swedes – in some ways, it is the proverbial lull before the storm of the 2020 Draft when the big three of Noel Gunler, Lucas Raymond, and Alexander Holtz hit the scene.
Emil Bemström, C/W, Djurgårdens IF (CBJ, 2017)
Drafted in the 4th round in 2017 by Columbus, Bemström has had a great start to his D+2 season. Always viewed as a bit of a project, Bemström was arguably Sweden’s most effective forward at the World Juniors posting four goals and six points in five games. Bemström’s game comes down to shiftiness, quick feet, and above-average hands combined with a goal-scorers mentality when it comes to bearing down in close to the net. Back with Djurgårdens IF, Bemström has been a key offensive cog, leading not only his team but the entire SHL in goals with 15 in only 28 games. Alongside the league points-leader Jakob Lilja (more to come on him next time!) and former New Jersey Devils forward Jacob Josefson, Bemström’s Djurgårdens club has been setting the pace in the SHL with the most goals for, and least goals against of any team.
Martin Fehérváry, D, HV71 (WSH, 2018)
While I cannot honestly say I tuned in to HV71 to get a glance of Fehérváry, he definitely stood out as deserving of a quick mention in this month’s report. Very involved in all three zones, Fehérváry has shown a willingness to jump into the rush and given his skating skills, fairly frequently can go coast-to-coast with. Unfortunately, once he gets into the zone and begins to attack the net, nothing ever really seems to manifest itself. Despite his limited offensive contributions (one goal, two assists, 27 games), the mainstay of the Slovakian WJC team has acquitted himself nicely for HV71 as a safe, two-way defender who is well-deserving of the average 15 or so minutes of ice he receives per game.
Noel Gunler, W, Luleå, (2020 Draft Eligible)
Although there have not been many big splashes for young draft eligible forwards in the SHL, Noel Gunler (2020 eligible) has already created a spark. Dominating the SuperElit with a league-leading 41 points in 28 games played – including a recent six-point game after being sent back down from the SHL’s top club, Luleå. The 17-year-old has had a commendable 10-game debut at the professional level. In those SHL games, Gunler has posted one goal and three assists in limited ice-time (9:10).
David Gustafsson, C/W, HV71 (WPG, 2018)
With a pro frame (6’2, 196lbs), Gustafsson catches the eye as a reliable two-way forward who is