SHL Report – Season Wrap-Up
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This summary edition of the SHL Report sets forward to highlight the key notes of several prospects playing in the SHL and/or Allsvenskan systems. For reports and information pertaining to the recent U18’s, I invite you to check out Jokke Nevalainen’s tournament reviews (Team Sweden is highlighted in Part 2!):
The SHL season wrapped up officially on May 2nd with the Frölunda Indians capturing the championship title after a six game series versus Djurgården. The third place team in the regular season, Frölunda was an offensive force in the playoffs and received contributions throughout their line-up. Despite putting up a good fight, Djurgården ultimately couldn’t keep pace with the Indians, being outscored 25-17 in the series. Overall, Frölunda’s organization had an excellent year, in addition to the SHL title, their prospects captured the J18 SM-Gold (over Färjestad) led by 2020 Draft Eligible Lucas Raymond.
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Samuel Fagemo, W, Frölunda (2019 [2018*] Draft Eligible)
Fagemo has received a fair bit of press in the SHL Report thus far, however the second time draft eligible forward has continued to be a strong producer for Frölunda. Fagemo often played the role of team hero during the playoffs with several key goals (and his own special chants from Frölunda fans!). Continuing to progress across the season, Fagemo is a great example of a player who grew and enhanced his skillset and overall game following the discouraging event of not being selected in the entry draft. After a strong regular season with 14 goals, Fagemo finished the playoffs with six goals and 10 points in 16 games, including ripping this one-timer to open the scoring in the Championship winning game. A key contributor the whole Final series with six points in six games, it will be interesting to see where Fagemo lands after his name is called this June – I’d place my bet on he returns to Sweden, however I also believe he has the ability to jump into a contributing role in the AHL immediately.
Noel Gunler, W, Luleå, (2020 Draft Eligible)
A surprise (read: shocking) omission from Sweden’s U18 roster, the third member of the Swedish star trifecta for the 2020 Draft didn’t miss a beat and continued to dominate the SuperElit with a 1.48 points per game average and 27 goals in 31 games.
Nikola Pasic, W, BIK Karlskoga (2019 Draft Eligible)
Struggled to get much going at the SHL level (hardly surprising given he averaged less than three minutes of time on ice per game…), Pasic showed well in the SuperElit with a 1.09 points per game average. Still a bit of an afterthought when we look at the upper end of the coming draft. An announced switch to playing in the Allsvenskan for BIK Karlskoga next season should mean an increased opportunity for Pasic to get real ice-time and play in more offensive situations.
Lucas Raymond, W, Frölunda (2020 Draft Eligible)
After being named the best forward in the J20 SuperElit, and MVP of the playoffs, Raymond’s accolades continued into the U18 World’s where he led Team Sweden to their first ever U18 World Championship. A great player in all three zones, Raymond clinched the gold medal game for the Swedes with a hat trick performance and the OT winner.
Viktor Söderstrom, D, Brynäs (Draft Eligible 2019)
An unfortunate injury kept Söderstrom mostly out of the U18 World’s. At such a high profile event for draft eligible players, it stands he could drop a few spots on draft day. His skating, on-ice awareness, and ability to transition the puck will still keep him at the high end. I don’t think he’ll crack the top five, however after that with the way this draft is lined up, anything is fair game.
Emil Bemström, C/W, Djurgårdens IF (CBJ, 2017)
Simply put, Bemström had a great offensive year, posting goal totals rarely seen in the SHL, let alone by a younger player. He was not as effective during the post-season, and still appears to have struggled with earning complete trust from his coach judging by averaging around only 13 minutes in ice time (despite leading the SHL in regular season goals). Finishing with 10 (5+5) points in 19 games, the slick shooting forward has already signed his entry level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one can expect to see him in North America competing for a roster spot come training camp. Realistically, I could see him loaned back to the SHL to help round out his game, however given the Blue Jackets depth, his future remains uncertain.
Martin Fehérváry, D, HV71 (WSH, 2018)
Fehérváry continued strong two-way play dictated by his smooth stride and good decision-making on breakouts. Currently he has dressed for all four of Team Slovakia’s games as he represents the home country at the current World Championship. I would imagine Washington management would want to bring Fehérváry over to Hershey sooner than later.
David Gustafsson, C/W, HV71 (WPG, 2018)
Gustafsson hasn’t been able to harness much in terms of offensive production at the SHL level (three goals all season…). However, his HV71 coaches appear to view him highly. In the recent playoffs, Gustafsson saw his ice-time jump up by almost 4 minutes over the regular season – there’s something there, but whether it is enough to translate to the NHL in anything more than a replacement level role remains to be seen.
Filip Hållander, W, Luleå, (PIT, 2018)
After finishing his first full SHL season with 21 points in 45 games, next season the Penguins prospect will be loaned to one of the SHL’s powerhouse teams from this past year, Luleå HF. Although this switch might seem odd at first glance to those of us in North America, after a last place finish in the regular season leading to Timrå IK’s relegation, this move was orchestrated to keep Hållander developing in the SHL against the best competition. The smooth skating winger who possesses a great nose for the net could conceivably have crossed the pond and not looked out of place in Wilkes-Barre (AHL Penguins), however joining an offensively gifted squad such as Luleå with a good chance at top six ice time seems to be a promising move. It is wise for the Penguins not to rush this one.
Axel Jonsson-Fjällby, W, Djurgårdens IF / Hershey (AHL), (WSH, 2016)
Selected by the Washington Capitals in the 5th round in 2016, Axel has had a unique season in terms of geography. Beginning the season with the AHL Hershey Bears, he struggled to fit and ultimately, contribute (2 goals, 1 assist, 15 games). This resulted in the activation of a contract clause allowing his return back to his home club Djurgården. Jonsson-Fjällby continued to struggle to produce in the SHL during the regular season. Statistically, his production dropped in points per game from last year, only managing to put up one goal and nine assists in 36 games. However, it appears Jonsson-Fjällby is well on his way of making a name for himself when the post-season comes around. Averaging 14:15 in ice time, Jonsson-Fjällby was one of his team’s most dangerous offensive threats in the playoffs. Finishing third in team scoring with 12 points (including seven goals!) in 19 games, his season finally came to a close when Djurgården lost the SHL championship in six games to Frölunda. Oddly enough, this is the second straight SHL season with Jonsson-Fjällby has demonstrated a unique knack for upping his level of play in the playoffs – he too was a dominant force last year posting six goals in only 11 games despite a similarly unspectacular regular season. Following his SHL season, Jonsson-Fjällby reported back to the Hershey Bears however wasn’t able to arrive in time to prevent the Bears defeat to the Charlotte Checkers. There should be a legitimate opportunity for Jonsson-Fjällby’s combination of size and speed in the Capitals bottom six next year, however it is likely he starts his season in the American league while he tries to ride his playoffs into a confident year ahead.
Isac Lundeström C, Luleå (ANA, 2018)
After his loan back to Sweden earlier this past season, Lundeström will surely head back to North America for the 2019-20 NHL season. The safe bet will be he establishes himself in Anaheim’s top nine forward group with power-play time, however a slow training camp could lead him to a focal role in San Diego until a call-up.
Fabian Zetterlund, W, Färjestad (NJD, 2017)
The third round selection of the Devils in 2017 recently signed his three year entry level contract – thus indicating a move across the pond may be in the near future. Zetterlund faired decently for Färjestad this season, albeit limited action due to a lingering knee injury that eventually ended his season in January. The versatile forward could be served by another year in Sweden to try and discover more offence to his game, however it wouldn’t be out of the question if he’s brought to the AHL to shake-up his development.
Free Agent Signings
Olle Alsing, D, Djurgården (OTT, FA Signing)
Alsing is a swift skating blue-liner who possesses great on ice vision and awareness – particularly in the offense zone. After a very strong season for Djurgården, the unheralded Alsing signed on the dotted line with Ottawa Senators in May. During his draft eligibility, Alsing was identified as a decent prospect and was ranked in the top 50 European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, however the perception of smaller defenceman in 2015 was simply not as accepted as present-day. Although making the big team out of camp is probably not in the cards, Alsing should play a significant role for the Baby Sens in terms of being a smart, puck moving defenceman who can excel in a playmaking role on the power play. Listed on SHL.se as 5’11 and just a smidge under 170 lbs, Alsing will look to build upon his breakout SHL season where he registered 15 points (four goals) in 49 games while averaging 17:23 time on ice per game and leading the league in +/- (+26).
Anton Wedin, W, Timrå IK (CHI FA Signing)
The undrafted 26 year old winger coming in at 5’11 and 194 pounds is fresh off a newly inked contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. A mainstay in the Allsvenskan for several years, Wedin made the SHL jump with Timrå this past season. Never a highly offensive player in the Allsvenskan, Wedin found a scoring touch in the SHL, positing 14 goals and 27 points in 32 games – his best points per game since his SuperElit days. A power-play fixture for Timrå, he was their most dangerous forward and leading goal scorer, despite playing significantly less games than the team’s other primary producers. The Blackhawks have had success in recent years bringing players over from Europe, so there is potential for Wedin to crack the roster given Chicago’s current forward group. Wedin is a stocky winger, however a combination of not having great size or skating speed could ultimately prevent him from thriving in the current NHL. It does however stand to reason he could make an immediate impact at the American League level.
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Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this month’s edition of the SHL Report! Have any questions or requests? Shoot me a follow and message on Twitter at @Kyle_SHL!
Kyle Stewart is the author of Dobber Prospects ‘SHL Report’. Relatively new to the sports writing world, Kyle has a Masters’ in sport psychology and works with athletes of all levels as a professional Mental Performance Consultant in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.