In addition to rooting through Swedish junior leagues looking for talent, the Calgary Flames have also been digging through Swedish pro leagues. They managed to land defenseman Carl-Johan Lerby to a two year free agent contract, though he’ll be in Sweden on loan for the first year of his contract.
Lerby is our 17th-ranked prospect in the Flames system.
How did we get here?
Originally from Trelleborg, Sweden, Lerby came up through the Malmo Redhawks system. Like Lindstrom, he progressed fairly quickly up the ladder of Swedish hockey, though he never really played above his age level until a few years post-draft:
- He was in a U16 league at age 15.
- He was in a U18 league at age 16.
- He split his 17-year-old season between U20 and U18.
- He spent his 18-year-old season in U20 and made his pro debut that year.
- He spent the vast majority of his 19-year-old season as a pro.
- He was a full-time pro beginning at age 20.
Typically the Swedes that get drafted play a full year of U20 in their 17-year-old season and since Lerby came along a little bit slowly (by Swedish standards) it’s understandable that he wasn’t nabbed right away. Despite the slow start, he’s come along quickly in the SHL and become a pretty productive pro defender.
Stats, numbers, and everything therein
2018-19 was Lerby’s third pro season (and functionally his third full season in the SHL).
Out of all the defenders in the SHL, Lerby was 16th in scoring. Relative to his age group (players younger than 22), he was 8th in scoring overall. Relative to just under-22 blueliners, only development camp invitee Johannes Kinnvall had more points.
Over three seasons in the SHL, Lerby has progressed rather well: between his first and third SHL seasons, his goals-per-game jumped from 0.044 to 0.106 and his points-per-game jumped from 0.089 to 0.447. He’s still incredibly young, but he’s made a ton of rapid improvements offensively.
Those in the know
Flames director of player development Ray Edwards explained why Lerby spending 2019-20 in Malmo makes a lot of sense for the player and the team:
Our scouting staff – Hakan Loob, Derek MacKinnon – they’re over there. They identified CJ and then in terms of being able to land him, I think they’ve seen what we’ve done with Rasmus and Oliver and I think they liked the model. The idea was, in this case, he stay over. He’s comfortable there, he plays a big role there in Malmo and that’s a big part of it. He’s gonna play a lot of minutes, he plays in all situations, there’s a comfortability there with the coach and the strength coach. So I think for this year it made a lot of sense for him to stay there and we can devise our development plan around him playing there and the situation there.
An extra year of development in Sweden may also give the Flames a better idea of how to integrate him into their North American plans for 2020-21 rather than having him jump in cold.
On the horizon
Lerby is one of the more impressive young offensive defensemen in Sweden. If he can keep rounding out his game, he could be a very useful player for the Heat when he comes over in 2020-21.
|#20 – Lucas Feuk||#19 – Josh Nodler|
|#18 – Linus Lindstrom|