Coming into mid-October the 2017-18 SHL season is a month deep at this and there is some separation starting to happen. Sitting atop the standings it Farjestad BK who have been nothing short of dominate early on with a record of seven regulation wins, one overtime win and one overtime loss for a total of 24 points. Leading the way for Farjestad has been the trio of Johan Ryno, Michael Lindqvist and Dick Axelsson who are one, two and ninth in league scoring with 13, 12 and nine points respectively. Not far behind Farjestad is the Elias Pettersson-led Vaxjo Lakers who have 22 points and Djurgardens with 18 points led by ex-NHLers Rene Bourque, Niclas Bergfors and Andreas Engqvist who had a cup of coffee with Montreal a number of seasons ago.
All those with eyes towards the 2018 Draft will be focussed on a trio of players currently plying their trade in the top league in Sweden, Adam Ginning, Isac Lundestrom and consensus number one pick Rasmus Dahlin. There’s something for everyone in these three; one a defensive defenseman, one an offensive forward, and one an offensive dynamo from the back end.
Standing 6-03, Ginning is a big defenseman know more for his ability to keep the puck out of his own net rather than filling his opponents. This is Ginning’s second season of SHL action having suited up for 12 games in 2016-17, registering a pair of assists. Currently projected to go in the second to third round, Ginning could work his way up into the end of the first with a strong campaign.
Ginning (#37 in blue) keeps the point shot low, leading to a rebound and goal
Ginning (#37 white) with another low point shot leading to a goal
Arguably the best Swedish forward available in the upcoming draft, Lundestrom is a playmaking winger known for his hockey sense and slick puck skills. After playing 45 games in 2016-17 averaging just over nine minutes of ice time, Lundestrom has seen a jump of nearly seven minutes per game and his production is following suit. Through nine games he’s already matched his assist output from the previous season with three and has nine shots, only five short of his 16-17 total, but has yet to find the back of the net. Lundestrom should be in the conversation for the 2018 WJC team.
Scoring a beauty goal.
Blowing by the defenseman and tucking it home far side
The consensus top player of the 2018 draft class has teams and fanbases absolutely drooling at the prospect of him suiting up for their squad. Some are calling him the best d-man to come out of Sweden since Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman. It’s easy to see why. An effortless skater with elite level puck skills, he has franchise player written all over him. Through eight games in his second SHL season, Dahlin has already matched his production from last year to the tune of two goals and one assist and has seen his ice time take a four minute jump. He should be in for a big season.
At 0:23 Dahlin with a goal
Dahlin cruises in the back door a puts it home
At 1:41 Dahlin with the shot leading to an assist
At this time last year, the spotlight was focussed on another trio of draft eligible Swedes,
It’s his first season in the SHL and the 18 year old has come out of the gates flying and looks like a seasoned vet producing at nearly a point-per-game with seven helpers in eight games for Vaxjo. The future Canuck leads the Lakers in assists, is tied for sixth overall in the league in the category and is tied for the team lead in points while averaging 14 minutes of icetime.
Pettersson (#40 in blue) with a trio of helpers at 0:21, 1:11 and 2:27
At 1:47, Petterson (#40 in white) with a great pass for the primary assist on the PP
The second Swedish forward selected in the 2017 Draft, Andersson hung around the New York Rangers training camp for a while before being sent back to his home country for further seasoning. He admitted that he didn’t have his best showing and that the travel took a toll on him. Andersson put together an impressive 2016-17 with HV71 to the tune of 9 goals and 10 helpers in 45 games. After posting bupkis his his first four games with Frolunda this season, Andersson potted two goals in his fifth game and just narrowly missed out on completing the hat trick.
Andersson’s first G of the year
And his second in the same game
The highest drafted Swedish defenseman taken in 2017 draft, Brannstrom has seen a massive jump in ice time over last season. He’s playing over 50% more coming in at nearly 18 minutes per game and has eclipsed the 21 minute mark on two occasions. Also encouraging is the big leap in shots on goal going from just less than one per game in 2016-17 to 2.3 per game so far this year. So while he hasn’t slipped one past the goalie yet, if he keeps this up the goals will inevitably start to come.
At 0:27, Brannstrom (#26 white) picks up the loose puck and transitions the play up the ice leading to a goal
At 0:17 Brannstrom (#26 white) with the D-to-D pass ending in a goal.
That’s all for this month’s installment! Check back this time each month throughout the season for more updates from across the pond. Give me a follow on Twitter @BradHPhillips.
Thanks for reading!
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