It’s not terribly difficult to understand why the Calgary Flames keep drafting players from Sweden. Because of the way Swedish hockey organizations are structured, players get a chance to play in different levels of hockey – U18, U20 and pros – and teams can chart their progress. And rather than dominate a level they’ve out-grown, Swedes can be tried out at higher levels and challenged. In recent years, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Linus Lindstrom and Filip Sveningsson have joined a long tradition of Flames picks from Sweden.
While the Flames don’t have a ton of draft choices this year, they may have a chance to add to their long list of promising Swedish players with Djurgardens product Axel Andersson.
A product of Jarna, Sweden – 30 minutes outside of Stockholm – Andersson has one of the best names in the entire draft class. (I think Jett Woo is cooler, but it’s very close.) A 6’0″, 180 pound right shot defender, he’s played in the Djurgardens organization for four seasons.
- In 2014-15, as a 14-year-old, he had 26 points in 24 games in the U16 league
- In 2015-16, as a 15-year-old, he had 15 points in 39 games split between the two divisions of the U18 league
- In 2016-17, as a 16-year-old, he had 11 points in 29 games in the U20 league
He represented Sweden at the Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2016-17, capturing a gold medal.
Andersson spent his entire 17-year-old season in the U20 SuperElit league. He had 31 points in 42 games, which represented his best offensive performance to-date and the most time he’s spent on a single team as a teenager. He also suited up for Sweden at two major international events: the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the Under-18 Worlds, where he captured bronze.
Andersson is a smooth skating defenceman who is skilled with the puck. He makes a good first pass, can skate with speed and precision and very smart with the puck. He allows forecheckers to commit and then will just go the other direction and carry the puck out. He plays the game the way that many teams are building their defence in the sense that he is extremely mobile with the puck, smart with his reads and movements and makes a crisp first pass.
Andersson’s a bit of a gambler, but he was one of the few offense creators on a team that played a fairly low-event style.
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Andersson was third in SuperElit in scoring by a blueliner, behind teammate Simon Johansson (who’s 19) and Axel Bergkvist (who’s the same age, but is also 5’8″ and hasn’t made much of an impact on the draft rankings). Despite his offensive success he didn’t get a sniff at the SHL level, but he was 17 for the majority of the season and the big club didn’t have any teenagers on it at all. (They had one 20 year old, everyone else was older and it seems to have been a conscious decision by Djurgardens brass.)
Fit and availability
Andersson fits the Flames’ needs and habits like a glove. A puck-moving, right shot Swedish defender? The Flames scout Sweden endlessly and have a lot of success in that realm, so it’s likely that they’d feel comfortable with the intel they can gather on the player and feel they can help develop him into a well-rounded pro.
Of course, that’s dependent on him being available. Canucks Army has him ranked at 75th and Future Considerations has him at 98th (ISS Hockey has him 107th), so he might be gone by the time the Flames pick. But if he’s available, he’s an offensive-minded Swede with a cool name and would slot right into the organization.
2018 fourth round targets
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