FC’s Scout Series: Mikael Hedberg (Sweden)

Special To FC2015 Draft Center, Scouts Series

Future Considerations’ Swedish-based scout Mikael Hedberg gives his thoughts on who from the 2015 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.


Who Impressed?

A player that has impressed me this season is Skellefteå defender Sebastian Aho. As an early 1996-born, he was draft-eligible last year and I was very surprised that he didn’t get drafted at all. I held him as the most talented defender of his age-group, and although he might lack in size, he can still lay gritty along the boards.

He is a fairly quick and agile defender, but his strongest asset is his hockey smarts and passing-game. Aho ended the 2013-14 season with Skellefteå’s SHL team, and played minutes for the eventual champion that was very impressive for an 18-year old. For the 2014-15 season, Aho started where he left of last year and continued to play a very mature game for Skellefteå in the SHL. He was a part of the Swedish squad for the 2015 World Junior Championship in Toronto/Montreal. Aho had a strong tournament, and was in my opinion the team’s best defender overall, despite a weak game against Finland in the quarter finals. After a good World Juniors, Aho kept going through the season and played on the third defensive pairing of the regular season winners, averaging almost 13 minutes per game and playing on the second power play formation. He was consistent all season, but can still work on many aspects of his game. Like for example working on his speed, using his shot, which actually is pretty good, more often.

Who Disappointed?

I had high expectations for Fredrik Forsberg going into this season, as he had such a strong 2013-14 season for Leksand’s SuperElit team. He is an offensively smart and technically skilled player, but he didn’t play as well as I had expected him to.

Early on, I got the impression that Forsberg had spent a lot of the summer in the gym, packing on weight, and it had made him a slower skater. A lot slower. While still a smart player, he didn’t get as much out of his game, and he didn’t take those steps in his development that I thought he would. I had hoped that he would play half the season in the SHL, but he ended at only seven games. Next season will be important for him to see if he can take that extra step to improve his skating.

Who Surprised?

He didn’t really come out of nowhere, but I didn’t expect Joel Eriksson Ek to be a potential first round pick at the draft this time last year. He started out the 2014-15 season with Färjestad’s SuperElit team, but got promoted to the SHL team in December where he stuck for the rest of the season.

He ended the season by being one of team Sweden’s best players during the World Under-18 Championship, recording five goals in five games. Much of this thanks to his mature, smart and responsible two-way game. While He doesn’t always have the flashiest technical skills, Joel Eriksson Ek always seems to make smart decisions, both with and without the puck. This low-risk game and general smartness, combined with his elite-level shot makes for a very competent center that can be used in many situations during a game. If he can keep developing his game, and get a bit quicker, he can become a very competent and reliable two-way center.