The 2016-17 SHL regular season wrapped up last week and saw the Vaxjo Lakers capture the regular season crown after the 52 games schedule, besting HV71 by one point in the overall standings led by such ex-NHLers as Dennis Everberg and Ville Leino. The honor of scoring leader went to Joakim Lindstrom who scored 18 goals and had 36 helpers in 51 games. Lindstrom is a veteran of 150 NHL games, last seeing action with the Toronto Maples Leafs in 2014-15. At 33 his NHL days are behind him, but a number of other players in the SHL with bright NHL futures made a noticeable impact on the scoresheet this year in Sweden’s highest league.
Oskar Lindblom – Philadelphia Flyers
Starting with the name at the top of the list, Oskar Lindblom was dominant from the time the puck dropped on the first game this year and had an historically great season in 2016-17. Anyone that has read these columns in the past knows that I am a huge Lindblom fan. He finished fourth in the league in scoring with 47 points, second in goals with 22 and tied for the fourth most points in a season by a player under 20 in the history of the league. He’ll be in the mix for the Guldhjälmen as league MVP voted by the players.
Lindblom capitalizes on a turnover
Getting to the front of the net to jam home a goal
Carl Grundstrom – Toronto Maple Leafs
Among the players in their draft plus-one season, Carl Grundstrom led the way with 20 points and 14 goals. The latter of which was the most by any U20 player. There are rumours that the Leafs will sign Grundstrom to an entry-level deal but as of yet, nothing has been made official. It’s extremely encouraging progress and great news for the Swede, but with the depth of the Leafs prospect pool, fantasy GM’s have to wonder when, and in what fashion, Grundstrom will suit up for Toronto.
Hearing the Maple Leafs will announce shortly the signing of 2nd round pick Carl Grundstrom to an entry level deal.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) March 9, 2017
Grundstrom with his 13th of the year
Carl Grundstrom cashed in the rebound for his 1st goal of the game and his 13th of the year pic.twitter.com/69vOIjDNpO— Future Of The Six (@FutureOfThe6) March 9, 2017
Rasmus Asplund – Buffalo Sabres
Not to be outdone by fellow 2016 second rounder Grundstrom, Rasmus Asplund put together an equally impressive 2016-17. The Buffalo Sabres prospect led all U20 players on a points-per-game basis with 19 in 39 games, six of those points being goals. In spite of being one of the youngest players on the team, Asplund saw top-six minutes averaging nearly 17 minutes of ice time per game.
Victor Olofsson – Buffalo Sabres
Another Sabres prospect making waves is Victor Olofsson. A seventh round selection from 2014, Olofsson has been honing his craft in the SHL, this being his third full season. Having come up through the ranks in the Modo program, he made the switch to a powerhouse Frolunda squad this year after Modo was relegated to the Allsvenskan. In 51 games Olofsson scored at better than a point-per-game clip with nine goals and 18 assists in 51 games. Blessed with NHL caliber speed and and a pro level shot, he should be ready to make the jump to North America next season.
A couple of clips of Olofsson sniping
Here is Victor Olofsson's seventh of year (PPG) from back on 12/20/16 pic.twitter.com/2OvQvdlf8L— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) January 1, 2017
At 2:55 Holmstrom assists on the empty netter
2017 Draft Eligible
Lias Andersson – 2017 NHL Draft
Leading the way for all draft eligibles was Lias Andersson, competing for regular season runner-up HV71. Playing in his first full SHL campaign, Andersson put up some impressive numbers for an 18 year old. In 42 games Lias scored nine times, had 10 assists and finished with a plus-minus of plus-21. The latter is largely a function of the team’s league-high goal differential but it’s respectable all the same. Coming into the year there were some questions about his ultimate offensive upside but his performance this year should help sway a few people.
At 1:20 Andersson get to the puck first then heads to the net for a goal
Andersson with a four point night
Kristian Vesalainen – 2017 NHL Draft
The big Finn has had an inconsistent season. Starting the year in Frolunda Vesalainen was loaned back the HPK in Liiga back in November before returning to the SHL after the WJHC. His ice time has been wildly sporadic all year, seeing double digit numbers early on, but the trend has been mid-single digits more recently. No doubt his play has largely dictated his usage with just one point over the course of his last 16 games. At the end of the campaign, Vesalainen finished with a goal and five helpers in 26 games for Frolunda.
Vesalainen scoring a couple goals against Brynas in the SuperElit league
Erik Brannstrom – 2017 NHL Draft
Brannstrom is someone that had been rising in draft rankings over the past couple of months. At 5’10” he’s not going to intimidate anyone with his size, but his offensive game is as good as any defenseman in the draft. Brannstrom tallied one goal and found the assist column five times in 35 games, finishing ahead of Timothy Liljegren by one point albeit Brannstrom played 16 more games. As many scouts have mentioned, think Kimmo Timonen.
Brannstrom with a stretch pass to spring Mattias Tedenby for a goal
Timothy Liljegren – 2017 NHL Draft
Liljegren was loaned to Timra in the Allsvenskan in early February and hasn’t played an SHL game since, finishing with a stat line of one goal and four assists. Similar to Vesalainen, he suffered from some inconsistent play this year and as a result, draft prognosticators have Liljegren ranked all over the place. Some still have him as a top-3 pick, other have him pegged as a mid-first rounder. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him endure the same fate as Cam Fowler and Jakob Chychrun.
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