Future Considerations’ Swedish scout Patrik Hall gives his thoughts on who from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
Simply put, one cannot write this section without coming back to defenseman Hampus Lindholm. The smooth-skating, big blueliner has been rising through my rankings all year and improved with every game he played for Rögle of the SEL-2.
As with many young players in general and defensemen in particular, Lindholm got more comfortable and at the end of the year was playing at a very high level. His best months were in February and March, when the games mattered the most and Rögle played themselves into the promotion playoffs. It was during this time Lindholm strung together his best weeks of the season.
Lindholm’s play was all about smart, calm decisions and no sense of nerves playing in pressure-filled games. He really stepped up and controlled the tempo with good plays on many of his shifts. Kenny Jönsson, the former New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs defender has clearly had a positive impact on Lindholm’s game.
One Swedish player who I definitely had higher a year and a half ago is Calle Andersson. He was my top ranked Swedish defenseman going in to the summer of 2011, but has seen the likes of Ludvig Byström and especially the afore-mentioned Lindholm pass him on our rankings, a combination of the impressive play of the other two and a relatively disappointing set of circumstances for Andersson himself.
The main thing about Andersson’s development is that he is one of few top prospects out of Sweden we haven’t really had a chance to see playing against men, be that in the SEL-2 or the top division. Färjestad had one of the best and deepest group of defensemen in the league and to make matters worse, top prospects Jonas Brodin and Oscar Klefbom, both first rounders in 2011, were knocking at the door with force so there was virtually no chance for Andersson to get in on SEL action, regardless of how he played in Swe-Jr.
Hopefully next season will see Andersson get some senior level experience in, because if he had been showcased at that stage this year, I don’t think he would’ve fallen out of first-round consideration.
One player that isn’t even on the radar on many occasions and unranked even on Future Considerations, is Linköping’s Jesper Pettersson.
It’s easy to drop down the rankings as an undersized defenseman with numbers that aren’t breathtaking, but the skill and smarts of this player might earn him a long, hard look on the second day of the draft in Pittsburgh. The potential here is very high as he can skate and handle the puck better than many in this Swedish draft class, but obviously being a five-foot-nine player at the back end does not help anyone who isn’t willing to take a gamble.