Filip Sveningsson probably isn’t the name that comes to mind when discussing Flames prospects, but he could be the next Calgary hopeful to wildly outperform his draft position. A seventh round pick from the 2017 draft, Sveningsson has seen a meteoric rise through the Swedish hockey leagues. He seamlessly jumped from the U18 leagues to the U20 leagues, and has taken an even larger step forward by finishing top 20 in a professional league.
When we last checked in
Sveningsson’s 2017-18 earned more hype and fanfare than late round picks usually get thanks to his excellent season. Sveningsson finished first on HV71’s U20 team in PPG, earned a brief call-up to the SHL, and scored the Superelit championship-winning goal. It would be fair to expect him to toil in irrelevancy, but Sveningsson was dynamite. He didn’t entirely deserve the spotlight, but he at least deserved some of your attention.
But there were some asterisks attached to his performances. He did have a great Superelit season, but as one of the older players on his team, he should’ve been doing that. The Superelit itself has rarely turned out NHLers, so quantifying how meaningful Sveningsson’s success was a bit tricky.
Nevertheless, any signs of life from players picked as late as Sveningsson are welcome news. With him likely getting a serious shot at pro hockey, his 2018-19 season promised to be intriguing.
Sveningsson did make the pros this season, but not through the route I expected him to take. Instead of remaining with HV71 and trying to crack their SHL roster, he was bought by IK Oskarshamn of the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second league. The move guaranteed he would get more ice time, albeit in a lower league.
And Sveningsson took full advantage of the opportunity. As we’ll see, he started off slow, but a hat trick in his eighth game got the ball rolling. He shot up to the top of the Allsvenskan scoring charts, picking up eight points in his next nine games. For the opening third of the season, Sveningsson was up there with some of the elites of the Allsvenskan. Not bad for a rookie.
His good work earned him a spot on Sweden’s WJC team, but fourth line minutes and an illness reduced his impact. It really, really did not go well for poor Filip.
— Anton Johansson (@antonj85) December 28, 2018
(To be nice: he really does possess one hell of a shot.)
The timing could not have been worse for Sveningsson, as he had only picked up one point in eight games preceding the WJC, and three in the 10 following it. He eventually found his footing again, finishing the season with six points in his last eight games. He led all rookies in goals (17) and points (39), and finished at the top for U20 players.
Numbers & growth
|League||GP||G||A||P||5v5 points||Primary points||5v5 primary points||NHLe|
Sveningsson has a lot of the same qualities and flaws as he did last year. He can generate a lot of primary points, thanks to scoring a lot of goals, but is equally as good at setting up the play, too. He’s generally an offensive wizard, featuring heavily on the powerplay and leading his team in powerplay points.
His NHLe really puts into perspective how great his year was. I wouldn’t put that much value into it, as the Allsvenskan rarely sends players directly to the NHL, but it does show how much he really grew year-over-year. I’ve already mentioned Sveningsson hitting a wall post-WJC, but there was never a point in his season where he looked like he could use some time back in the Superelit. He made a big jump from U18 to U20 the year before, but making that same jump from junior to pro was going to be much more difficult. Sveningsson did that, and made it look easy, too.
— Anton Johansson (@antonj85) November 27, 2018
The thing Sveningsson is not great at is defence. He shines on offence, but wasn’t really trusted in any other scenarios. His average TOI was 13:07, sixth among Oskarshamn forwards, and included a decent chunk of PP time. Goals for percentage being what it is in isolation, but Sveningsson was one of two Oskarshamn players with a subpar GF, sitting at 45.71%. This is on a 55.17% GF team, mind you.
Perhaps it’s part of the growing pains jumping from junior to pro (he was at least a +2 last year), but it’s certainly something that he needs to work on. Sveningsson won’t likely develop into a dominant two-way player, but he also can’t be scooping out as many pucks as he puts in the net.
As I said, his NHLe shouldn’t really be taken as a strong predictor of future success, so let’s look at some comparables for a better picture of who Sveningsson could be.
Since the Allsvenskan was reformed into its current state in 2005, there have been 41 instances of U20 players managing to score over 0.5 PPG over at least 20 games played. Players who have reached this include some of the most exciting offensive names in hockey, including Elias Pettersson, William Nylander, David Pastrnak, Filip Forsberg, and William Karlsson. Sveningsson’s performances this season have definitely placed him among some elite company.
But it doesn’t necessarily bode well for him. Only 13 of those players (technically 12 – Patrik Berglund managed to hit this feat twice) actually made their way over to the NHL, stacking the odds against him. Most of those players were also younger than Sveningsson, passing the 0.5 PPG mark by 17 or 18, and outperforming his numbers, too.
It’s certainly fine if he doesn’t develop into a clear-cut first round talent like the rest, but the likelihood of him even making it to the NHL, regardless of his achievements, is in question. If we look at just 19-year-olds who have hit this 0.5 PPG mark, there have been 18 such seasons. Only two of them eventually found their way over to the NHL: Marcus Sorensen (0.59 PPG) and Berglund (1.25 PPG). Of the two, Sorensen is the most likely scenario for what Sveningsson develops into, based on how similar their age 19 seasons were. Sorensen is currently a pretty fine third line winger for the Sharks. Should Sveningsson head down that road, it’s much better than anything expected for a seventh round pick.
Sveningsson is an intriguing player with some flaws. When he’s on, he can be an offensive dynamo, but his struggles with consistency and his defensive struggles mean that he’s still got some work to do before we can consider him close to the NHL.
Could the Flames sign him and bring him overseas? Maybe. Oskarshamn will be facing off against Timra IK, the worst SHL team, in a seven-game challenge series to win Timra’s place in Sweden’s top league. If Oskarshamn wins promotion to the SHL, I feel Sveningsson is probably going to stay for at least another year. He’ll be a top six piece playing in one of the best pro leagues in the world, which is an experience he won’t get in the AHL. It’s free, high-level development for the Flames, which is extremely enticing. Given how he’s improved year-over-year, perhaps this won’t be a bad choice for him.
If Oskarshamn loses the series and stays in the Allsvenskan, the odds of the Flames bringing him to Stockton are raised a bit, but it’s not an absolute certainty. He’s already proven that he’s one of the best young Allsvenskan players, and is scratching the surface of being one of the best players in the entire league. What more does he need to do in that league? Sveningsson could continue to assert his dominance over the Allsvenskan, but the Flames could feel that acclimating him to North America would be a better use of his time. If he needs to work on some of the finer points, might as well put him in a system that the Flames control.
Wherever Sveningsson winds up, he’ll be an exciting prospect. To go from a seventh round pick to an established name in a men’s league in two seasons is substantial growth, and it’ll be interesting to see what he does next.
— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) January 23, 2019