SHL Report – March 2018

by Jokke Nevalainen on March 20, 2018

All images used on the collage are taken from SHL.se

 

The regular season in the SHL is now over, so it’s playoff time! This is now my second SHL report after taking over the SHL coverage with my February report. 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.

 

In the SHL, the six best teams earn an automatic spot to the quarter-finals while teams ranked from seventh to 10th play a best-of-three Wild Card series to determine which two teams advance from there. The other important line in the standings is at the bottom because the bottom two teams are automatically going to play in the relegation series against the top teams from Allsvenskan. Just like last time, I’ll go through the teams from top to bottom and skip the teams who don’t have interesting prospects. Let's get going.

 

Växjö

 

Växjö finished the season at the top of the standings, and their 116 points is a new SHL record. They’re facing Brynäs in the playoffs.

 

The player who ended up with most points is also from Växjö, and his name is Elias Pettersson (Canucks). The 19-year-old had 56 points in 44 games, and he ended up winning the race despite missing a few games because of World Juniors. 56 points is also a new SHL record among teenagers. His 24 goals were second best in the league, and it’s second best all-time among teenagers.

 

Pettersson is definitely one of the top prospects in the world right now but his transition to the smaller ice might take some time, especially if the Canucks want him playing center because he spent most of the season playing wing. But his long-term upside is definitely very high, and you can expect to see him in the NHL next season. He needs to add some muscle in the summer but he’s so smart and slippery that he doesn’t need to add as much as some might expect.

 

Djurgården

 

Djurgården finished second in the league, and they’re facing Linköping in the playoffs. They have three somewhat interesting prospects on their team but unfortunately they usually play on the same line, so it’s difficult to keep an eye on all three at the same time.

 

Center Marcus Davidsson (Sabres) was drafted early in the second round last summer but I don’t see a lot of upside in his game. The 19-year-old finished the season with 21 points in 39 games. He plays a solid two-way game, though, so he could end up being a good bottom-six player in the NHL.

 

Marcus’ brother Jonathan Davidsson (Blue Jackets) is a winger, and he was drafted in the sixth round last summer. The 21-year-old has more offensive flair in his game but he’s also more risky which is probably why he went undrafted in the previous two drafts. Jonathan finished the season with 31 points in 52 games which was second best on the team. Jonathan has been used on the penalty kill as well alongside his brother, so he’s not purely offensive either.

 

The third player on that line is winger Axel Jonsson Fjällby (Capitals). The 20-year-old was drafted in the fifth round in 2016 and I can see the NHL in his future but he’s going to be a bottom-six penalty-killer who provides energy for his team with hits, relentless work ethic and hustle. Just don’t expect much offense from him. He finished the season with 16 points in 42 games.

 

Frölunda

 

Frölunda finished the season third in the league, just one point behind Djurgården, and they’re facing Malmö in the playoffs. Winger Victor Olofsson (Sabres) ended up winning the SHL goal-scoring race with 27 goals in 50 games, and his 43 points were second best on the team. The Sabres are likely trying to get this volume-shooter to cross the pond this summer and get used to the North American style by playing in the AHL next season.

 

Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (2018) is the projected first overall selection this summer, and he finished the season with 20 points in 41 games. That mark is second best all-time among under-18 players in the SHL. Not just among defensemen, among all players. Dahlin’s season was truly remarkable and definitely worth the hype.

 

Färjestad

 

Färjestad finished the season fourth in the standings, and they’re facing Skellefteå in the playoffs. Center Rasmus Asplund (Sabres) isn’t going to put up big offensive numbers but his game is so mature and well-rounded that he can probably play in the NHL sooner than expected. Asplund finished the season with 28 points in 50 games.

 

Winger Fabian Zetterlund (Devils) was loaned to Allsvenskan late in the season but was recalled for the final game of the regular season, and had an immediate impact drawing two penalties early in the first period. Zetterlund is still only 18 years old and needs time but his skating is good and he isn’t afraid to throw his body around which allows him to play at the SHL level already. He finished the season with seven points in 35 games.

 

Winger Michael Lindqvist (Free Agent) has been injured these past two months but he’s expected to return today when the playoffs start for Färjestad. Despite missing about 20 games due to injuries, Lindqvist’s 34 points ranks 15th in the league, and his 20 goals is sixth best. It will be very interesting to see how he plays in the playoffs after missing so much time. Lindqvist is a 23-year-old free agent, and after a strong season, he should draw interest from multiple NHL teams.

 

Skellefteå

 

Skellefteå finished the regular season fifth in the standings. The one player who always catches my eye when I’m watching them is winger Tim Söderlund (Blackhawks). Söderlund is a great skater and a really hard worker. He’s small but fearless. He doesn’t mind physical play, and he’s solid defensively as well. It’s really easy to like a player like him, and I think it’s safe to say he has everything needed to reach the NHL but it remains to be seen if his offensive upside materializes at that level. He received more ice time late in the season and finished the season with 14 points in 43 games which is not bad for someone who just recently turned 20.

 

Luleå

 

Luleå finished the regular season seventh in the standings but they were eliminated in the Wild Card round by the 10th ranked Brynäs. Goaltender Filip Gustavsson (Senators) had a great run after the World Juniors because he started 11 of 18 games to finish the season and had great results in those games. Gustavsson also started all three playoff games in the Wild Card round but wasn’t at his best, stopping 51 out of 57 shots, and he was pulled early in the third and final game. It’s important to remember that Gustavsson is only 19 years old and it’s already impressive he’s trusted to play at the SHL level during the most important time of the season. The Senators did very well acquiring this future stud at the NHL trade deadline.

 

Center Isac Lundeström (2018) finished the season with 15 points in 42 games. He had a cold streak late in the season as he went pointless in the final 10 games including the three Wild Card playoff games. But Lundeström was trusted to play big minutes as an 18-year-old and he did create offensive chances in those games, so there’s no reason to worry about it. Lundeström is a safe pick at the upcoming NHL draft and projects to become a middle-six center if he can make improvements on his faceoff skills – his 40% success rate was worst among all players in the league who took at least 300 faceoffs. Lundeström was ranked 15th overall in Cam Robinson’s latest draft rankings.

 

Last month, I talked about a potential sleeper in defenseman Nils Lundkvist (2018). At the time, the only rankings that even had him listed where The Draft Analyst who had him 203rd overall, and NHL Central Scouting who had him 41st among European skaters – so both rankings had him somewhere in the seventh round or maybe going undrafted. Well, it appears I wasn’t the only one noticing Lundkvist because he’s now ranked 22nd overall in Cam Robinson’s latest draft rankings and 19th overall at HockeyProspect.com. Talk about climbing up the draft board! Lundkvist’s five points in 28 games may not seem like much but only three other teenage defensemen had more points than him. I also created Lundkvist’s player profile recently, so just click on his name to check it out.

 

HV71

 

HV71 finished the regular season eighth in the standings but they were eliminated in the Wild Card round by the ninth ranked Linköping. Defenseman Lawrence Pilut (Free Agent) finished the season with 38 points in 52 games which was more than any other player on his team, and also more than any other defenseman in the league. The 22-year-old free agent was injured during the final game of the Wild Card series but that shouldn’t stop NHL teams from sending him offers trying to get him signed. Click on his name to find his fantasy hockey profile.

 

Forward Victor Ejdsell (Blackhawks) really found his offensive game after the calendar flipped to 2018 as he scored 19 points in the final 20 games of the regular season. His season total of 34 points in 50 games was second best on the team, and his 20 goals was seventh best in the entire league. Ejdsell still needs to work on his skating but the Blackhawks acquired a very good prospect at the NHL trade deadline.

 

Center Kevin Stenlund (Blue Jackets) finished the regular season with 22 points in 43 games, and the Blue Jackets quickly assigned him to the AHL after his SHL season was over. Stenlund is big and defensively reliable which means he could play in the NHL sooner than most people realize.

 

Defenseman Erik Brännström (Golden Knights) finished the season with 15 points in 44 games which was second best among teenage defensemen in the league. After the World Juniors, Brännström’s average ice time went up to over 19 minutes per game and he scored nine points in 17 games. During the two playoff games, Brännström played 21 and 22 minutes. Brännström has said in an interview that he’d like to continue his season in the AHL but that hasn’t happened yet.

 

Center David Gustafsson (2018) had 12 points in 45 games but finished the season strong with nine points in the last 12 regular season games. 12 points may not seem like much but it’s actually the 13th best point total all-time among under-18 players in the SHL. Late in the season, he was often playing on a line with Ejdsell and Pierre Engvall (Maple Leafs) but didn’t receive power play time. Click on his name for his fantasy hockey profile. Gustafsson was ranked 50th overall in Cam Robinson’s latest draft rankings.

 

Talking about Engvall, he could be a sleeper prospect. I wasn’t watching him closely enough to provide a proper scouting report but he’s very tall and lanky, and definitely has some offensive talent as well. 20 points in 31 games is very good production for a 21-year-old. Since the calendar flipped, he had 13 points in the final 11 regular season games.

 

Goaltender Linus Söderström (Islanders) made a surprising return late in the season. It was believed his injury might keep him out for the rest of the season but he managed to return for the final few regular season games. His first game was very good, stopping 29 out of 30 shots. But in the next game, he managed to stop just 24 out of 29 shots, and he didn’t get to play after that in the final three games.

 

Goaltender Felix Sandström (Flyers) was impressive in his HV71 debut, stopping 30 out of 31 shots. But things didn’t continue as well because he only managed to stop 67 out of 77 shots in the three games after that.

 

Brynäs

 

Brynäs finished the regular season 10th in the standings but managed to win the seventh ranked Luleå in the Wild Card round.

 

Forward Jesper Boqvist (Devils) has started to frustrate me a little bit when I’m watching him. He’s obviously talented and could be a star player but he doesn’t put in the work on the ice right now. Too often, he’s just expecting his linemates to do the work for him. This is obviously just a mental thing and something that can be fixed with proper coaching but he needs to start working on it if he wants to play in the NHL. He’s talented enough to eventually be a top-six forward in the NHL but won’t get anywhere near that level unless he starts doing the little things on the ice more frequently. Boqvist finished the season with 13 points in 23 games.

 

Defenseman Lucas Carlsson (Blackhawks) had a couple of injuries late in the season but when he played, he was trusted to play top-four minutes. Carlsson isn’t afraid to play a physical style, and he has some offensive talent as shown by his 17 points in 44 games.

 

Rögle

 

Rögle finished the season 11th in the standings which means they missed the playoffs but for a long time it looked like they might end up going to the relegation rounds, and one big reason why that didn’t happen was winger Lukas Elvenes (Golden Knights) who they added from Allsvenskan. Elvenes helped them by scoring 16 points in 28 games which was fifth best in the league among teenagers, and he only played half a season.

 

Much has been talked about Jonathan Dahlén (Canucks) having a strong season in Allsvenskan – and he did have a strong season with 44 points in 44 games – but Elvenes is almost two years younger and had a similar point-per-game season in the same league. Elvenes dropped to the fifth round, 127th overall, in last summer’s NHL draft, and apparently skating was a big reason why but his skating has improved. Some smart people had Elvenes ranked higher than where he went, for example he was ranked 74th overall in Cam Robinson’s final 2017 rankings. It’s time to take this kid seriously in fantasy hockey circles.

 

And now that I mentioned Dahlén here, I think I also need to mention that he’s doing his best trying to get Timrå promoted from Allsvenskan to the SHL. Dahlén has seven points in three qualification round games, and Timrå has a real chance to get promoted with Dahlén leading the charge.

 

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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.