Flames fans are probably happy to hear that their team’s 23-year old center Mikael Backlund is tearing the cover off the ball in the Allsvenskan so far this season (10GP, 8 goals, 19 points, 1.9 PPG). The significant caveat being, of course, that the Allsvenskan (or SWE-1) league doesn’t appear to be all that good. As Graham Wiswell put it on twitter after viewing a few highlights:
@kent_wilson Good for Backlund, but uh… That level of hockey looks like a minor step up from beer league
— Graham (@WiswellMRU)
A professional relegation league beneath the siginificantly more competitive Swedish Elite League (SEL), The Allsvenskan doesn’t tend to produce a lot of NHLers. At least, not a lot of NHLers who don’t stop over in the SEL or AHL before finally making the show here in North America. As a result, it’s difficult to generate an NHL equivalence or translation factor since that requires a large-ish sample of players who gone from one (SWE-1) to the other (NHL) in a single step.
The NHL Sample
The number of players who have done it in recent memory is vanishingly small. In fact, I could only find four in my trip through hockeydb – Michael Ryder (2004-05), Francis Bouillon (2004-05), Patrik Berglund (2007-08) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2009-10). Each guy played nearly a full season in the SWE-1 in the year mentioned and then immediately played 40 or more games in the NHL the next year.
Of course, four is a pathetically small sample, but I ran the numbers anyways.
|Player||GP||points||SWE-1 PPG||GP||points||NHL PPG|
Ryder and Bouillon were closer to their prime years when they played overseas during the previous lock-out, while Berglund and Ekman-Larsson were fresh faced rookies when they made the leap. Something to keep in mind.
The result is pretty intuitive, ranking SWE-1 somewhere between Junior hockey (0.30) and the typical AHL (0.44). That said, it has has to be taken with a large heaping of salt given our sample is N=4.
SWE-1 to SEL Equivalency
To develop a proxy NHLE for the Allsvenskan, I decided to look at players who graduated to the Swedish Elite League from SWE-1 and then to use that measure to determine a translation factor for the NHL. Naturally, a lot more guys tend to move up and down between the two Swedish leagues, so the numbers were far more robust.
All-in-all, I found 82 player matched-seasons (year-1 in SWE-1 and then year-2 in SEL). I did not exclude anyone according to age, although typically may want to eliminate guys right at the start or end of their careers to avoid outliers. I did, however, discount a guy if his year in either the SWE-1 or SEL was less than 20-games.
The sample included 3,367 games played in the SWE-1 with a total of 2165 points (0.64 PPG). Those same guys played 3525 in the SEL, garnering 1039 points (0.29 PPG). The SWE-1 to SEL translation factor was therefore 0.46, meaning we could reasonably assume a Allsvenskan player moving up to the SEL to retain about half of his output.
The NHLE for the Swedish Elite league is 0.78. If multiply that by our new "SELE" factor of 0.46 for the Allsvenskan we get…0.3588 or .36. Huh. How ’bout that?
Again, this places the Allsvenskan above the CHL (0.30), but below other, more prominent pro leagues like the AHL, SEL and KHL.
SWE-1 NHLE Application
Only five NHLers are competing in SWE-1 during the lock-out: the aforementioned Backlund, Patrik Berglund, Matt Read, Carl Hagelin and Anze Kopitar. Former first rounder Filip Forsberg is the only other recognizable name there currently. Here’s how they rank in terms of NHLE so far:
Keep in mind none of these guys has even played 20 games yet, so things are bound to change over time. I doubt, for example, that Anze Kopitar will only score at a PPG pace over the long haul in the Allsvenskan. In addition, Berglund and Backlund are playing together for Vasteras, so we should expect that to inflate things a bit for them.