SHL Report: February 2021

Tomáš Zahorák

2021-02-25

Photo courtesy of https://www.farjestadbk.se/

 

February is almost over, and the regular season in the SHL is slowly coming to an end as well. A lot has happened throughout the past month, so here is a quick recap of all the important news, updates, and prospect reports with my observations and some interesting stats from one of the best leagues in Europe. I hope you enjoy it! 

 

In case you missed it 

  • According to Sportbladet, Emil Pettersson, the brother of Canucks forward Elias Pettersson and current SHL scoring leader, is on his way to the NHL after the season. He has scored 22 goals and 46 points in 43 games for Växjö.

 

  • Just after five games, Örebro has parted ways with Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang. In the meantime, the 25-year-old has landed a new job in Linköping. He has appeared in one game thus far with no points, 16:49 TOI, and -2. 

 

  • Örebro defenseman Robin Salo has signed his first NHL contract with the New York Islanders. Isles drafted him in 2017 from 46th place.  

 

  • Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has told the media that Lucas Raymond will be out for eight weeks. He should undergo minor elbow surgery in the coming days. 

 

  • As a replacement for Raymond, Frölunda has called up another Red Wings prospect, Theodor Niederbach, from MODO Hockey in HockeyAllsvenskan, where he was loaned earlier in the year. The 18-year-old forward tallied three goals and nine points in 15 contests there.  

 

  • Fabian Lysell (2021) has signed a two-year contract extension with Luleå. 

 

  • Malmö defenseman Helge Grans (LAK) and Färjestad back Adam Ginning (PHI) has agreed on one-year extensions with their respective teams. 

 

  • The latest loans to the HockeyAllsvenskan: HV71 defenseman Emil Andrae (PHI) has joined Västervik IK and Linköping back William Worge Kreü (BUF) has moved to Väsby IK. Flyers prospect has scored three goals and four points in seven outings, while Sabres sixth-round draft pick from 2018 has recorded two assists in three contests.  

 

  • There is a rumor that Red Wings prospect William Wallinder, who currently plays for MODO Hockey, will join Rögle in the next season and potentially play with another Red Wing Moritz Seider, if the German isn’t in the NHL.  

 

Player Reports

Albert Johansson, LHD, Färjestad BK (Detroit Red Wings)

Johansson has been one of the most entertaining Färjestad players to watch throughout the campaign. However, his game has improved even more since he came back from the World Juniors. The 20-year-old defenseman looks very mature and confident, especially with the puck on his stick. He is not afraid to make risky plays or take responsibility on his shoulders, but he remains level-headed and does so with composure. He is also the second-most prolific back on the team with seven goals and 16 points in 35 contests. 

 

 

February has shown us the best, most offensively dominant Albert Johansson yet. The young Swede tallied three goals and seven points in the last seven outings with 18:57 of ice time per game. That is approximately two minutes more than his season average. Johansson has a very positive influence on the team’s game. Since February 1st, he has been on the ice for 57.03 shot attempts for/60 while allowing the opposition to shoot only 38.02 attempts/60. He is also the best player on the team in Relative Corsi (10.73). It means that Färjestad has shot 10.73 more shot attempts per 60 minutes more with him on the ice than without him. He makes Färjestad a better, more offensive team. 

 

 

Olle Lycksell, LW, Färjestad BK (Philadelphia Flyers)

Flyers prospect Olle Lycksell has a great February under his belt. The 21-year-old winger has recorded four goals and eight points in seven outings while getting almost two minutes of action more than he was used to before. He is also currently second overall in points per 60 minutes (6 points/60) since February 1st, only behind Olli Palola from Rögle with 7.35 points/60. 

 

Färjestad is pretty fun to watch with him on the ice. Over 71 shot attempts for/60 and 60 shot attempts against/60 speak for themselves. Lycksell has not been great defensively, but he has improved on the other end of the ice throughout the last several games. However, maybe it does not mean anything. Until February 1st, he collected just four goals and ten points in 32 outings while seeing only 12:26 of action per game. It is not that bad, considering the lack of his ice time, but also nothing extraordinary.

 

If we take a closer look at his expected goals in the last six contests, we will see that luck has played a role in his latest offensive explosion. According to the stats, he was supposed to score just 1.90 goals with the quality of shots he has taken. I do not think that he can keep this pace for a very long time, but hopefully, he can use it as a stepping-stone, move up the lineup and get more opportunities. 

 

Jonatan Berggren, RW, Skellefteå AIK (Detroit Red Wings)

There is not a lot of players who are as good and as consistent as Jonatan Berggren. Red Wings prospect is still the top-scoring player on the team and sixth overall with ten goals and 40 points in 42 contests. The 20-year-old winger has also marked six goals and 16 points in the last 16 outings since January 1st, which are quite impressive numbers as well. 

 

 

Berggren has been great with keeping the possession, controlling the game, and creating opportunities. Since February 1st, he has been on the ice for 65.71 shot attempts for/60 and just 36.19 shot attempts against/60, which makes it for 64.49 Corsi for percentage. Also, his Relative Corsi has been through the roof at 13.68 (eleventh-best in the league). It means that Skellefteå has fired almost 13 shot attempts more with him on the ice than without him. He has unequivocally been one of the most dominant players on the team. 

 

 

Bobby Nardella, LHD, Djurgården IF (Washington Capitals)

Djurgården has not been in the best form lately. The team has won just three of their last 12 games, and players’ performances have been naturally affected by that. Bobby Nardella is not an exception. Specifically, his possession numbers have been down, although, to his credit, his production keeps rising and rising. 

 

The 24-year-old American is the team’s top-scoring player with six goals and 27 points in 40 outings. He has put up one goal and four points in seven contests throughout February while averaging the most minutes on the ice (22:41). He has been a reliable presence with tons of trust given by his coaches. He truly is the definition of an offensive defenseman with smooth skating, excellent playmaking ability, but still room for improvement in the defensive zone. 

 

Filip Hållander, LW, Luleå HF (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Hållander has been ripening like a fine wine. The more games he plays, the better he gets. At first, early in the season, I was not sure what to think about his performance. He just seemed, to me, a bit uncomfortable out there. I think he lacked some confidence early on, but it has changed throughout the course of the last couple of months. He has been playing with the puck more often and actively engaging in plays. 

 

The 20-year-old winger has tallied ten goals and 20 points in 42 outings throughout the campaign. He has scored seven of these ten goals since January 1st and three of them in the last six contests. Only five players have scored more goals than him since the date. And to make it even more interesting, he is also tenth overall with 4.86 expected goals in this period. He has been dangerous offensively and improving as the year goes on.      

 

Robin Salo, LHD, Örebro HC (New York Islanders) 

Salo is having a pretty solid February. Actually, maybe a bit better than just solid. His performance has been quite all right, as he has recorded three assists in six games. However, the biggest highlight is the signing of his very first NHL contract with the Islanders. And frankly, he deserves it. The Finnish back is the second-most prolific player on the team and currently sits in 6th place in scoring among defensemen overall with five goals and 28 points in 42 outings. 

 

He regularly plays on the power play and serves as one of the deadliest offensive weapons in Örebro. I would describe him as a player who you want to have on the ice while trailing. His offensive instincts, playmaking skills, and sharp shot make him very dangerous on the offensive blueline. 

 

Salo has also improved on the other end of the ice throughout the campaign. I remember describing him as a bit lazy in the defensive zone, but since February 1st, he has been on the ice for over seven fewer shot attempts against/60 than before this date. He has been having a more positive impact on Örebro’s performance lately. 

 

Elmer Söderblom, RW, Frölunda HC (Detroit Red Wings)

The Swedish giant has finally moved from the role of 13th forward up the lineup. Up to February 1st, his average ice time was just slightly over eight minutes per game, but since that day, it has changed and raised to 11:25. Rightfully so. He has been playing with a lot of confidence and determination, and it has finally paid off, just as I predicted in my last report (not to brag or anything). 

 

Söderblom has appeared in 20 outings to this date, in which he has scored three goals and five points. He has marked four of them in the last eight contests, which only proves the fact that he has been on an offensive upswing since 2021 began. 

 

However, he still has plenty of work to do. For one, I think that he should be more dominant physically given his frame (6-8, 238 lbs). But development takes time and the saying “patience is a virtue” exists for a reason. He is going to be a good hockey player but still has a long way to go. 

 

 

Filip Johansson, RHD, Frölunda HC (Minnesota Wild)

Johansson is having a solid season. The 20-year-old defenseman is playing his second year in the SHL and first in Frölunda. As of now, he has already surpassed his four-point total from the 2019-2020 campaign by recording five goals and ten points in 37 outings while being the third-most prolific back on the team. 

 

He has been slowly getting more and more opportunities as the year progresses, especially on the power play, where he can effectively use his laser of a wrist shot. He usually sees around 0:53 of action per game during man-advantage, but it has gone up to 1:45 since February 1st

 

Johansson also has the second-most expected goals (5.36) among defensemen on the team, only behind Stefan Elliott (7.32). He can really rip it, as he has shown enough times already. I would certainly love to see him on the power play even more often.    

 

Mattias Norlinder, LHD, Frölunda HC (Montreal Canadiens)

When it comes to offense, Norlinder is very developed and mature for his age. The confidence and composure that he shows with the puck are immense. The smartness, vision, and waiting for the best passing lane to open up his teammates are also at the top of his abilities. He also likes to jump to plays from the second wave, which is pretty entertaining as well. 

 

However, Norlinder has not been experiencing an ideal season. He has missed 15 outings so far, nine of them being since Christmas due to knee issues. He has also recorded just three goals and seven points in 28 contests so far, which is not much for a player who has been averaging over two minutes of power play action per game. 

 

But to his credit, his possession numbers were at the top of the team until the end of January. He helped Frölunda generate over 62 shot attempts for/60 while allowing just 43 attempts/60 on the other side of the rink. His Relative Corsi was second-best on the team (3.92), which means that Frölunda usually played better with him on the ice. 

 

However, the whole squad has got worse since then, and Norlinder is no exception. Since February 1st, he has been slightly below-average in all the mentioned stats, even relatively to his teammates. Injuries might have left some marks on him, but I think it is just a matter of time until he fully gets back on track. 

 

 

Adam Edström, LW, Rögle BK (New York Rangers)

Adam Edström has shown a lot of promise so far, and especially during February. The 20-year-old winger has put up one goal and two points in the last six contests while seeing a minute and a half more action per game than he was used