SHL Report – March 2019

by Kyle Stewart on March 20, 2019

 

Welcome to another edition of the SHL Report! Before taking a quick hit approach as to the latest and greatest in Swedish hockey prospects, if you do not follow the SHL closely it is important to mention that the 2019 SHL Playoff brackets are now underway! Concluding the 52-game regular season on March 14th, we had a tie for first overall in the league between Färjestad and Lulea – Färjestad winning the tie-breaker off regulation victories (which are worth three points in the SHL).

 

Without breaking it down too in depth, the SHL playoffs are a bit of a different system where a series of mini “finals” are played from the start to determine the last teams to make it into the playoffs on each respective side of the bracket. Based off regular season standings, the team with the seventh most points plays the tenth, while eight plays nine. Two games are played (not a best of three) to determine the victor. This year we had Växjö (#7) and HV71 (#8) advance to secure the final two spots in the playoff bracket and thus begin the traditional quarter, semi, and finals best of seven series.

 

In essence, it is a competitive take on the idea of “wild card” spots where the wild card race does not simply come down to end of season points and then it is over, but rather a quick mini-series is played to determine who advances. What this means is that the ninth and tenth place teams still have a chance following regular season play – definitely makes you wonder how this would alter the dynamic over in North America!

 

Beginning on Friday, March 22nd, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Färjestad (#1) vs. HV71 (#8)
  • Lulea (#2) vs. Växjö (#7)
  • Frölunda (#3) vs. Malmo (#6)
  • Djurgårdens (#4) vs. Skelleftea (#5)

 

Now for the individual players – for this month’s report I intend to make note of some prospects covered prior given that their season has concluded and for many, the next step for their individual careers will involve crossing the pond, be it to earn a roster spot, or to walk up to the stage on draft day, in addition to highlight some new blood in the SHL report! Without further ado…

 

SHL Report Debuts

 

Samuel Fagemo, W, Frölunda (2019 [2018*] Draft Eligible)

 

In the CHL, it is a fairly common occurrence, and by that I mean typically a few select situations a year where an undrafted player goes on to have such a strong D+1 season that they rocket up their following year’s ranking (see the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders own Brett Leason this year). While I do not believe Fagemo has etched himself into first round territory, there is no denying the success he has had in the SHL for first place Frölunda. Finishing sixth in team scoring for the Indians with 25 points in 42 games played, Fagemo averaged just under 14 minutes of ice per game and put 109 shots on net. Had he suited up for the other 10 games, the right-handed winger would likely see himself in the top three of team points scoring, while based off his current rates, also have led the team in shots and goals. Quite the accomplishment for an undrafted 19-year-old on the SHL’s top squad.

 

Fagemo’s calling card is his shot and offensive instincts, but in watching him play you notice positives about his decision-making (especially in traffic), and his ability to get to pucks first. His skating is solid, albeit sometimes structurally jerky, although this does not prevent him from being an offensive catalyst. Given his success this year and with current PNHLe predictions place him dead centre between first and second line potential, expect Fagemo to be snagged up early on day two of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft – perhaps if there is a suited enamored by his play this season accompanied with the knowledge he may reflect a bit more of a “sure thing” – as much as that can even be mentioned amongst teenage prospects – given his age and experience, you just never know if an NHL organization might move up to grab him the late first round.

 

Albin Grewe, C/RW, Djurgårdens IF (2019 Draft Eligible)

 

Grewe is a physically mature, competitive two-way forward who excels at the little things coaches love. His attention to detail led to him dressing for 15 SHL contests this year where despite not much ice time (averaged under six minutes) and zero points, Grewe acquitted himself nicely playing against bigger, stronger, and faster athletes. I saw Grewe in multiple SHL games this year and always thought he was strong at getting to the dirty areas of the ice, while continuing to ensure he was more often than not on the right side of the puck in all three zones. His foot speed doesn’t scream out at you, however if it keeps developing it certainly should not be wholly detrimental to his future projections. Given his competitiveness and already well-refined two-way game, I see Grewe projecting as an excellent third-line NHL forward, with top-six upside.

 

Worth mentioning, although Grewe’s offense did not arrive in the SHL, he was a constant threat in the J20 SuperElit (34 points in 25 games), posting the second best points per game (1.36) of anyone aside from 2020 dynamo Noel Gunler (1.48). While one wouldn’t need the stats to tell Grewe’s story, he is a heart and soul player whose package also has the potential for high-end offense and play-driving ability. The maturity in his game is a great calling card and I love the intangibles to his game – the 102 penalty minutes in those 25 SuperElit games also highlights his ability to play the game with an edge. Projected as a mid-second rounder, Grewe could rise on draft day if he has impressed the right people – if he falls any further, he could be the steal of the second, or heaven forbid, the third round.

 

Raymond & Holtz Update

 

Lucas Raymond, W, Frölunda & Alexander Holtz, W, Djurgårdens (2020 Draft Eligible)

 

Despite the 2019 Draft being the most near in terms of our projections, it is impossible not to follow Swedish hockey and note the accolades of their 2020 crop – it is going to be magnificent year for Swedish prospects. After making his SHL debut and scoring his first two goals earlier in the year, Lucas Raymond returned to dominating the J20 SuperElit, becoming the all-time U17 single season point leader with 48 points in 37 games (1.30 points per game). There is very little not to like about Raymond, he has speed and quick feet, oozes hockey sense, and simply put, always seems to make offence happen. His playmaker mindset and his vision separate him from many of his age-group counterparts in that he can make himself an impact on (and off) the scoresheet in a variety of ways.

 

A quick shout out to fellow Swede and 2020 draft eligible Alexander Holtz – while Raymond set the points record (beating out Holtz by one point), Holtz secured the J20 SuperElit title for most goals in a season with 30, besting Daniel Sedin’s old 26 tallys (for a U17). While there is no doubting these two amazing talents, given the pure domination of the SuperElit circuit by 2020 draftees (let’s not forget the outstanding seasons by Gunler or Zion Nybeck either!), one must still ask the question as to how formidable the competition is this year in the SuperElit. While surely Raymond and Holtz appear to be the next Swedish superstars to become household names, given that they are not alone at the top, we may still want to hold some minor reservations until we see how they handle a greater percentage of SHL games next season.

 

Prior Mentions

 

Emil Bemström, C/W, Djurgårdens IF (CBJ, 2017)

 

I discussed Bemström in the January report, and while there is not much to add, it is worth noting for those Blue Jackets fans out there that he continued his goal-scoring pace and ultimately led the SHL with 23 goals. While you never know what the future holds for European prospects, one would think Columbus would be eager to get Bemström over to North American sooner rather than later.

 

Victor Söderstrom, D, Brynäs (Draft Eligible 2019)

 

While I honestly would be happy writing and talking about Söderstrom every month, I couldn’t help but quickly touch on his end to the SHL season before wrapping up. Earlier in the year I applauded Söderstrom for his calm on-ice demeanor and the ice that seemingly runs through his veins every time he breaks out with the puck. For his first full SHL season, Söderstrom’s defensive game was mature beyond his years (sure, not void of errors and areas to improve, but very solid for a rookie defenseman frequently posting over 18 or 19 minutes a game). As some of the highlight reels will tell you, Söderstrom has only become more and more comfortable in the SHL – while stats weren’t there many nights, his offensive awareness and hockey IQ are off the charts for a rookie defencemen.

 

Most still speak and favour Vancouver Giants’ Bowen Byram (deservingly of course!) and AIK’s Philip Broberg, I believe a significant part of the scouting community’s views on Söderstrom result from his deployment. Offensively, he did get some power play time, however Brynäs was never truly giving him the green light that we see when he plays amongst his peers. For acclimating to the SHL so smoothly, Söderstrom likely has played a ‘safer’ game than his skillset is conducive to. I fully expect Söderstrom to have a significantly increased role for Brynäs next season along with the consequential offensive totals to boot.

 

Kyle Stewart (@Kyle_SHL)