Photo courtesy of https://www.shl.se/
Welcome to the very first SHL report in 2021. A lot has happened since the year began, so I did my best to keep you all posted. The most important news and player reports, including my own observations, backed up by some interesting stats. It is all here in one place. I hope you will enjoy it!
In case you missed it
- Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang has been loaned to Örebro HK for the remainder of the season.
- Hurricanes prospect Dominik Bokk has been assigned from Djurgården to Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of Carolina Hurricanes.
- Red Wings prospect Theodor Niederbach has signed a new contract with Frölunda that runs until the spring of 2022, or in other words, the end of the next season, if everything goes as planned. Right after that, he has been loaned to MODO Hockey in HockeyAllsvenskan to get some playing time.
- Predators prospect Adam Wilsby has signed a two-year contract extension with Skellefteå through the 2022-23 campaign.
- William Eklund had an emergency appendectomy early in January. A few days ago, he appeared on the ice for Djurgården practice. The health problems have caused him to miss eight games so far.
- Canadiens prospect Mattias Norlinder missed six games due to a knee injury. Then he scored a goal in his return against Skellefteå. Right now, he is out again, most likely because of a sore hamstring, and it is yet to know when he will come back again.
- Hurricanes prospect Jack Drury suffered a shoulder injury on January 7th in the game against Skellefteå. He could be missing up to a month.
- Ludwig Persson, a prospect eligible for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, has been loaned from Frölunda to Hanhals IF in HockeyEttan. The 17-year-old has recorded one goal and two points in 13 SHL games this season.
Karl Henriksson, LW, Frölunda HC (New York Rangers)
I am a big fan of Karl Henriksson. He has been nothing but consistent and competitive throughout the season. He is a very good 200-foot player who gets his job done almost every game. Also, he is versatile, can drive plays, and create chances around the net. Well, he certainly can, but there has been something off with him in this particular area.
One of Henriksson’s biggest strengths is controlling his team’s puck possession. He helps Frölunda be the more dominant team on the ice. He and his teammates have created 60.95 shot attempts per 60 minutes while allowing the opposite side to do so for only 43.65 times per 60 minutes. That results in a 58.27 Corsi for percentage for the 19-year-old forward.
He is also the fourth-best player in Relative Corsi on the team (2.73), ahead of both of his probably most common linemates – Joel Lundkvist (0.89) and Max Friberg (-1.57). It means that he has had the most impact on the line when it comes to shooting and not allowing the opposition to shoot.
However, it is a shame that he has had so much bad luck with finishing and producing. He is yet to score, so the effectiveness has been letting him down very badly. The only points that he has collected through 31 games are five assists. That is just not enough for a player of his qualities.
Elmer Söderblom, RW/LW, Frölunda HC (Detroit Red Wings)
Fresh out of the World Juniors, he got himself back into the Frölunda lineup, although he has been just the 13th forward in five games since his comeback. The mark he has left in these contests, however, was noticeable. The 19-year-old winger recorded his first career goal in the SHL on December 9th against Färjestad.
He has been playing with great energy and expressing his very good skillset and puck protection, which is probably his biggest weapon. He likes to have the puck on his stick a lot, sometimes even too much for my liking, but it shows that he gained a good chunk of confidence at the World Juniors. If he continues with this attitude, I am sure he is going to get more opportunities.
Jack Drury, C, Växjö Lakers HC (Carolina Hurricanes)
If I had to describe Jack Drury, I would say that he is a bit like Karl Henriksson with a lot more gun powder. Although it might not be the most accurate comparison, they share some common traits. Both of them have versatile qualities that extend from defending to playmaking, and they have been reliable and consistent so far.
Just like his younger Swedish comparison, Drury has been good at controlling shots at both ends of the ice. He has pretty much the same numbers as Henriksson but with one key difference. He has been producing. A lot more than the Rangers prospect. As of now, Drury has appeared in 31 outings and tallied nine goals and 22 points.
Fredrik Karlström, LW, Växjö Lakers HC (Dallas Stars)
There is a lot to like about Karlström. The big winger (6-2, 196) currently in seventh place on the team in scoring, just two points behind Drury. These are quite strong numbers, especially when we consider that his average ice time is 13:24, which is almost four and a half minutes less than Drury’s.
His main strength was undoubtedly finishing at the beginning of the season. Karlström scored three goals in the first five and four goals in the first eight games. Since then, it has been just three goals in 25 remaining outings.
It might seem like he started to look for passing lanes more than shooting lanes, but that is not exactly true. He has fired 51 shots on goal throughout the season, 38 of them being in these 25 contests. His expected goals say that he was supposed to score five goals with the quality of shots he usually takes, so luck was probably a factor early on. However, he found a different way to produce, so it is good that he does not depend only on shooting and scoring goals.
Adam Wilsby, LHD, Skellefteå AIK (Nashville Predators)
Wilsby has been progressing nicely. He still loves to have the puck a lot and either make a stretch pass up the ice or take it up there by himself. He is always moving with his head up and looking for the best passing options.
I have noticed one subtle but quite important improvement in his game. He seems more patient lately, not rushing plays, and making more accurate passes and fewer mistakes. This kind of mobility and deliberation helps him a lot in overtime. Fewer players out there and more time to think and make the best play available.
The slow but steady betterment has reflected on his ice time throughout the month. Since January 1st, he has been seeing 17:47 of action on average, which is approximately three minutes more than what he was used to getting until December 30th. Although his two goals and ten points in 32 games are nothing mindblowing, I think he has been doing a great job.
Simon Lundmark, RHD, Linköping HC (Winnipeg Jets)
Lundmark is a very smart right-handed defenseman who can read opponents’ passing lanes and defend them with his stick very well. The Jets’ second-round pick in 2019 has no problem with passing and moving the puck all around the ice. He also likes to join the offense, where he can use his solid shot. He tends to make some mistakes here and there, some bad decisions with the puck in the defensive zone, and he is also not the strongest player in net-front battles.
However, and this is my subjective opinion, I think he deserves more opportunities. He has been averaging only 12:25 throughout the season while being either in the third pairing or a 7th defenseman. With this little time, he has recorded only two goals and six points in 29 games.
I think that he is capable of more. Linköping is penultimate anyway, so why not give him a better shot to succeed?
William Worge Kreü, LHD, Linköping HC (Buffalo Sabres)
Kreü is a giant (6-6, 185) defensive defenseman who can be physical when he needs to and regularly kills penalties. He usually plays on the third pairing with an average of just 11:04 of action. As of now, he has collected three assists throughout 28 outings.
The Sabres’ seventh-round pick from 2018 plays a simple game with one considerable flaw. His big frame limits him from being agile and quick. Small and skilled players are mostly one step ahead when they want to get past him, and they can do it quite easily. Therefore, with Kreü behind them, there is nothing but the goalie in front of them. The conclusion is that Kreü still needs to work on his skating and ability to move more quickly.
Nikola Pasic, LW, Linköping HC (New Jersey Devils)
Pasic is a fast, dynamic winger who has mostly been playing in the middle-six throughout the campaign. The 20-year-old has seen some action on the second power play unit as well, although his average ice time moves just around 13 minutes a game.
His biggest issue seems to be inconsistency. In other words, he has an on/off button, and he likes to switch it quite frequently. There are nights or moments during games when he is flying out there, forechecking opponents, carrying the puck deep into the offensive zone, and playing with a pinch of aggression. But there are also times when he looks kind of invisible for the majority of the contest. The Devils’ seventh-round pick in 2019 has recorded four goals and eight points in 33 outings so far.
Daniel Ljungman, LW, Linköping HC (Dallas Stars)
Ljungman is the definition of a defensively-minded checking-line forward with an inner hustle. Chasing opponents with the puck in their defensive zone and backchecking are two of the most distinct abilities that he regularly brings to the table as a winger in the bottom-six role.
What is also interesting, is that he is one of only six players from Linköping who have exceeded the number 50 in Corsi for percentage. The Stars’ fifth-round pick in 2020 is currently the fifth-best player on the team with slightly over 51 % of shot attempts for in his presence.
The 18-year-old winger also ranks fifth on the team in Relative Corsi with 4.94. It means that he can control shots on both ends no matter who his linemates are. Up to now, the young Swede has scored one goal and two points in 23 contests.
Albin Grewe, LW/RW, Djurgården IF (Detroit Red Wings)
Grewe is a hard-to-play-against forward who has been a regular part of Djurgården’s bottom-six. This role suits him well, and if he ever makes it to the NHL, he is probably going to play in the bottom-six as well. I do not think that he has shown enough to be higher in the lineup, although he has been doing well lately. The 19-year-old has recorded three of his six points since December 28th.
The offensive inconsistency has been an issue for him throughout the season, although he has been improving recently. Until December 28th, he had an average of 1.05 shots on goal per game. Since that day, it has been 1.5 shots on goal a game. He has been more active offensively the last couple of weeks, and I like it. It would be good if he could keep this up.
Albin Eriksson, RW, Färjestad BK (Dallas Stars)
The second Albin on the list is a big winger (6-4, 207 lbs) with a nice skillset, solid passing ability, and good puck-protection. He also has a very long reach that he uses when he forechecks. Due to his big frame, he often has a hard time with acceleration, quick turns, and agility in general.
Eriksson has been playing in the bottom-six while averaging just 6:18 per game. In late December, he has seen 11:44 of action in the outing against Växjö, which was his seasonal maximum. These numbers, however, considerably change from game to game. That is mainly because of his defense. He lets opponents shoot at a much higher rate than most of his teammates do. The 20-year-old is not exactly tearing it up in productivity either. He has collected just three assists in 28 contests.
2021 Draft Eligible Players
Fabian Lysell, RW, Luleå HF
Lysell’s performance has been steadily progressing. As a result, he has been getting a bit more trust and ice time game after game. He looks more and more confident with the puck and tries to be creative with it. If he does not have the puck, he is always in motion and hustling to get it back.
Although he still plays on the 4th line, the 17-year-old Swede has managed to score his first and second career goals in the SHL in January. These are his only points collected in 10 outings this season.
Lysell is extremely fun to watch. It feels like the more I watch him, the more I like him. He has a competitive spirit combined with an infinite amount of energy and now more revealed creativity.
Simon Edvinsson, LHD, Frölunda HC
At the very end of December, Edvinsson got the first of, hopefully, many opportunities in the Frölunda A-team. He played in four games from December 26th to January 3rd and proved that he has a great talent. In two of these games, specifically against Rögle and HV71, he even saw almost 15 minutes of action, which is approximately twice as much as is his average ice time. After the four-game streak, he was benched for an entire game against Luleå and then was out of the lineup for the next two contests.
The 17-year-old defenseman has shown that he is a skilled player with smooth skating, long reach, and great thinking. Naturally, he has made some mistakes and bad decisions, which probably cost him some more minutes on the ice, but at the end of the day, there is no better way of improving than making mistakes and learning from them. Although it has just been a small sample size, I have enjoyed his presence. I hope that he will get even more opportunities down the road.
Dominik Bokk, RW, Djurgården IF (Carolina Hurricanes)
Consistency. This trait was missing from Bokk’s game for, quite frankly, his entire stay in Djurgården. He was showing some nice flashes of smart plays and created chances here and there. He even saw some action on the power play as well. However, he was not able to take advantage of it.
The 20-year-old spent most of the time in the bottom-six with an average of 9:59 of ice time. He often played on the same line as Albin Grewe, so Bokk’s main duty was to be more of a checking player. But I am not sure that he had shown enough to get to the top-six either. Two goals and three points in 20 games are too few for a forward with his offensive potential.
Unfortunately, Djurgården just was not a good fit for him. Hopefully, he can get back on track in Chicago.
Thank you for reading this article! If you liked it, please follow me on Twitter @TZahorak for more updates throughout the season.