The 2014 NHL Draft saw William Nylander, a smallish forward with explosive skating ability and incredible offensive creativity, be taken in the first round.
Like Nylander, Filip Ahl is a talented Swedish forward who has a chance to go in the first round of an NHL Draft. Ahl has the potential to score like Nylander does though he takes a different route to putting the puck in the back of the net. While Nylander uses his speed and hands to maneuver his 5’11, 170 pound frame around the opposition, Ahl, who stands at 6’4 and weighs 210 pounds, simply bulls his way through defenders on his way to the net.
From Scouting Director Dan Stewart, Ahl is “Already a hulk of a man at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds and still growing, and heavy on his stick. [Ahl] protects the puck well and is hard to contain especially when he builds up steam before entering the offensive zone.”
While playing in Sweden’s J20 league for HV 71, the hulking left winger has posted 16 points, including five goals in 12 games, and has appeared in one game with the professional club in the SHL. For a big forward, Ahl is surprisingly mobile and has good lateral movement along the ice to free him up to unleash his explosive shot.
Stewart tells us that Ahl’s shot is “a very hard shot that on more than one occasion has seen a goalie ducking to get out of the way of it.”
With that type of size, speed, and shot, it should come as no surprise to us that Ahl is fourth in the J20 league in scoring despite being only 17 years old. Even though he is only 17, the winger uses his size to his advantage when playing against older competition, and is “at his best when he plays physical”, says Stewart. By playing against players that are years older than him and physically dominating during games, the Swedish winger is showing that he will be able to make an impact in the NHL sooner rather than later.
Filip Ahl certainly has all the physical tools to make it as a goal scoring winger in the NHL. Coming from HV 71, the Swedish hockey club has produced recent NHL draft picks such as the Nashville Predators’2014 first round selection Kevin Fiala, and the Boston Bruins’2014 seventh round selection, Emil Johansson. The big winger hopes to continue the trend and hear his name called early in the first round on draft day. The more offense he produces in Sweden this season, the earlier he will be drafted come June.