Welcome to the playoff edition of the SHL Report. If you want to know how your favourite SHL prospect did during the regular season, I suggest checking my March report. If you want to know more about draft-eligible Swedish prospects, I suggest you check my U18 World Championship Preview. And if you want to see highlight clips of these players, I suggest checking my Twitter feed @JokkeNevalainen because I frequently post short clips of SHL and Liiga prospects in there. Let’s get going.
The regular season champions also win the SHL Championship after sweeping Skellefteå. Växjö scored 20 goals and only allowed one goal against in four games in the final series. Not surprisingly, their leading scorer in the playoffs was once again 19-year-old, Elias Pettersson (Canucks) who led the league in playoff scoring with 19 points in 13 games and won the Playoff MVP award. Pettersson now owns the U20 scoring record both during the regular season and the playoffs as well. He was great during the regular season and even better in the playoffs if that’s somehow possible.
Elias Pettersson finishes his rookie SHL campaign with 84 points (40+44) in 68— /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) April 22, 2018
combined regular season, playoff and Champions Hockey League games.
He has a league championship, playoff MVP and holds the All-Time SHL U20 regular season & playoff point records.
Not bad. #Canucks pic.twitter.com/oMWztY5T7l
On top of all the accomplishments in the SHL, Pettersson also won silver at the World Juniors, and Växjö finished second in the Champions Hockey League. Pettersson could potentially continue his season with Team Sweden at the World Championship tournament next month. Could he lead them to gold medal as well? I don’t see any reason why not. It seems ridiculous now that Pettersson apparently wasn’t good enough to play at the Olympics just a few months ago. Maybe Sweden wouldn’t have lost to Germany in the quarter-finals if Pettersson was playing for them? We’ll never know.
Winger Tim Söderlund (Blackhawks) had a good playoff run with four goals in 16 games. He played a bottom-six role for Skellefteå, so it’s difficult to produce much more from there. Hopefully he gets to play a bigger role next season.
Representing Skellefteå at the U18 Worlds is Jonatan Berggren (2018) who had a hot start to the tournament by scoring all three goals for Team Sweden in their first game against Switzerland and then adding two assists against Belarus but he was held pointless against Team USA.
Djurgården was surprisingly eliminated from the playoffs in six games by Skellefteå in the semi-final series. Their kid line – Axel Jonsson-Fjällby (Capitals) on the left side, Marcus Davidsson (Sabres) in the middle and Jonathan Davidsson (Blue Jackets) on the right side – was mostly playing together during the playoffs as well. Jonsson-Fjällby scored six goals and eight points in 11 games while the older Davidsson brother Jonathan had four goals and eight points in 11 games. The younger Davidsson brother Marcus only had five assists in 11 games. All three are capable of playing in the AHL next season but another season in Sweden may not be a bad idea either.
Frölunda was eliminated in six games by Malmö in the quarter-final series. Malmö is a hard-working team that plays a physical style, and they also got some great goaltending in the series, so even though Frölunda was the favourite going in, they ended up losing the series. Frölunda’s leading scorer was winger Victor Olofsson (Sabres) who had three goals and four points in six games while playing about 17 minutes per game. The Sabres are likely trying to get him to North America now after a very strong season in the SHL. Olofsson could play for Team Sweden at the World Championship tournament next month.
Winger Carl Grundström (Maple Leafs) had two goals in six games while playing 16:36 per game. He was really hot coming into the playoffs but couldn’t really continue that in the playoffs – although two goals in six games is not bad by any means. Grundström has already made the jump to the AHL and said in an interview that he’s done with Sweden for now, so he’s staying in North America. Grundström will get a long look in training camp next fall because he’s capable of playing on any line. He’ll likely start the season in the AHL but is probably one of the first call-ups when needed.
Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (2018) had one goal and three points in six games while playing about 20 minutes per game. Dahlin is easily the best 17-year-old defenseman I have ever seen. At this point, we know he’s going to be drafted first overall this summer but we still don’t know which NHL team is lucky enough to get him. Dahlin is a franchise defenseman who will most likely win more than one Norris Trophy during his career.
But Dahlin may not be the obvious choice at first overall in fantasy hockey drafts. Defensemen usually take longer to develop and mature, and they need good players around them to put up points. Long-term, I think Dahlin will be the best fantasy hockey player from this draft class but if he’s the right choice in your league depends on league settings and your team’s situation.
It may sound like Dahlin is a perfect player, and actually he’s pretty close to it. There are some minor flaws in his game like trying some junior moves against pro players – although those moves work surprisingly well when Dahlin is the one doing them – and he also lets opponents get under his skin too easily which was clearly evident during the playoffs. But these flaws are very minor indeed and easily correctable with proper coaching and maturing. He’s just a kid after all.
Dahlin was shut down after the season because of fatigue, so he isn’t playing at the U18 Worlds and won’t play at the men’s World Championship either. He has to go through a lot of draft-related activities this summer and then needs to start preparing for the upcoming NHL season, so it was a smart decision to focus on those things.
Färjestad was eliminated in six games by Skellefteå in the quarter-final series. Even though Färjestad finished ahead of Skellefteå during the regular season, they were actually tied with 87 points, so there was no favourite in that series.
Center Rasmus Asplund (Sabres) had no points in the six games they played, and his average ice time was down to less than 15 minutes. More was expected of him but he couldn’t deliver during the most critical time of the season. Asplund is ready to play in the AHL if that’s what he wants to do.
Winger Fabian Zetterlund (Devils) had a goal and two points in six games while playing less than 11 minutes per game. Zetterlund even got some power play time during the playoffs, and he showed more of his offensive side partly thanks to it. Zetterlund needs to take a step forward offensively next season in the SHL, and he’s definitely capable of doing that.
Winger Michael Lindqvist (Free Agent) didn’t play for over two months because he as injured but he finally returned to the lineup during game five. He played just two shifts in the first period but started playing a bit more after that, and he was the most dangerous offensive player on his team right away. Lindqvist had two goals and three points in the two games he played during the playoffs, and things could have turned out differently if he was healthy enough to play the entire series. NHL teams should be all over this offensively talented winger, and it was a positive sign that he managed to return and prove that he’s still a difference-maker after the injury.
After beating HV71 in the Wild Card round, Linköping was eliminated in five games by Djurgården in the quarter-final series. Defenseman Adam Ginning (2018) is a potential first round draft pick according to some draft rankings but I just don’t see anything about him that makes me think so. Although he hasn’t shown it at the SHL level, Ginning is a punishing defenseman and great defensively when playing against his peers at the U18 Worlds where he’s the team Captain. But his skating isn’t very good and he’s not capable of doing much with the puck.
He probably should have played at a lower level league this season because he didn’t really look like he belonged to the SHL level. I would probably let him slide past the second round as well, and for fantasy hockey purposes, I think he’s only relevant in the deepest of leagues that use peripheral stats like hits and blocked shots. Ginning had just two points in 28 games during the regular season, and one point in seven games during the playoffs.
After beating Luleå in the Wild Card round, Brynäs was eliminated in five games by Växjö in the quarter-final series. Forward Jesper Boqvist (Devils) had just one point in eight games during the playoffs, and he was obviously expected to deliver more offensively. He also played more than 17 minutes per game, so it wasn’t because of lack of ice time. Boqvist probably needs another season in Sweden before he can make the jump to North America. The younger Boqvist brother, defenseman Adam Boqvist (2018) is representing his country at the U18 Worlds.
Defenseman Lucas Carlsson (Blackhawks) was suspended late in the regular season and that carried over to the playoffs as well. Carlsson finished the playoffs with no points in six games. He isn’t the primary offensive defenseman on his team but I’m sure his team wanted to see more points from him as well. Carlsson has said in an interview that he’d like to make the jump to the AHL but the Blackhawks have a lot of young defensemen coming in, so it’s unclear if there’s room for Carlsson next season.
Although Timrå obviously wasn’t part of the SHL playoffs, I decided to include them here because they’re officially an SHL team now after first winning the Allsvenskan Championship and then beating Karlskrona in a seven-game series to earn their promotion to the top league. Winger, Jonathan Dahlén (Canucks) was the offensive leader for Timrå and scored four goals and seven points in the seven-game series. Dahlén has also made the jump to the AHL and is likely staying in North America.
Timrå also had two very interesting draft-eligible players on their roster in Jacob Olofsson (2018) and Filip Hållander (2018). Both players are likely staying with Timrå which means they’ll be playing in the SHL next season. Olofsson is playing at the U18 Worlds but unfortunately Hållander couldn’t go because of a knee injury.
And that’s all for now. Feel free to add comments below – all kind of feedback is welcomed. You can also find me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.
All images used on the main collage courtesy of SHL.se