Rasmus Dahlin was the obvious pick at number one. You could go on YouTube and see the highlights, but I wanted to know more about the defender.
While in the process of gathering that information, another name always seemed to come up. That name was Jonatan Berggren.
After hearing a few people rave about his talent I looked into the Swedish forward and I wasn’t disappointed. Berggren is one of the more offensively gifted players that will be available in this draft class.
Weight: 185 lbs.
Team: Skelleftea J20 (SuperElit)
Berggren had a great season playing in the U20 junior league for Skelleftea. He was an offensive dynamo scoring 18 goals and 57 points in 38 games.
The 17-year-old carried that strong season into the U18 World Junior Championship where he really started to grab the attention of scouts. Again he lit up the score sheet scoring five goals and 10 points in seven games for Sweden.
Berggren brings a lot of speed and skill to his game. Two areas that the Sabres are in desperate need of adding to their pipeline. Combine those traits with his above average shot and you start to understand what all the buildup is behind him.
He’s a very smooth skater that can get to top speed in just a few strides. Speed is the name of the game for Berggren. He uses it to capitalize on turnovers in transition, beat defenders to loose pucks and generate offense for his team. I’ve often heard him compared to fellow Swede and Nashville Predator Viktor Arvidsson. Who is another small, offensively gifted player that has found a lot of success in the NHL.
Phil Housley’s system is based utilizing speed and attacking on the rush with the defense getting involved for a five-man attack. A good fit for what Berggren excels at offensively.
So, you may be asking yourself why this kid isn’t projected to go in the top 10? Well, he has a few things that are dropping him into the back half of round one or early part of round two.
The first thing is his size. We’ve seen small players succeed at the NHL level, but the 5’11” height and 185-pound frame are some things scouts take note of. He’ll need a few more years in Sweden before he’s ready to make the jump to North America.
He hasn’t had the opportunity to play against professional hockey players. The Swede got a small 10 game sample with Skelleftea this season and recorded no points.
Also, Berggren is one of the younger players in this draft class. He doesn’t turn 18-years-old until July 16.
Lastly, his defensive game is not where it needs to be, but that’s to be expected with a player at his age. It’s part of the development he’ll undergo over the next few years. He’s been able to rely on his offensive skill to carry him, but at the next level, he needs to improve on the 200-foot game.
Unfortunately, Berggren won’t be at the Scouting Combine this weekend, but he is an intriguing prospect in this year's draft. He could be a steal depending when he comes off the board. His ceiling is very high and scouts will fall in love with his offensive potential.
ISS Hockey has him ranked 30th, while Future Considerations has him ranked 44th and Central Scouting lists him as the 30th ranked European skater.
It’s hard to say exactly where he’ll be picked next month. It’s not inconceivable for him to go in the top 20 and also not out of the question that he falls into the 32-40 range of the draft. His strong U18 World Junior showing has built a lot of hype around him that could boost him into that 20-25 range.
You can get more on Berggren as well from a piece at Pension Plan Puppets by Kevin Papetti here.