The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will take place on July 23. Following the results of the draft lottery, the Flames hold the 12th overall selection and will have a chance to add a high-end prospect to their organization.
The latest prospect on the docket: Swedish winger Simon Robertsson.
A product of Pitea, Sweden, Robertsson is listed at 6’0″ and 190 pounds. He’s a left shooting winger, but primarily plays the left side. He’s gradually worked his way up through Skelleftea AIK’s system, splitting time during the past season between Skelleftea’s J20 Nationell and Swedish Hockey League clubs, as well as a loan to Pitea HC of the tertiary HockeyAtten and a trip to the Under-18 Worlds to represent his country.
There’s a lot to like about Robertsson. He turned 18 in February and enters the upcoming draft with 30 games under his belt in Sweden’s highest pro league, as well as ample experience in Sweden’s top junior league. He’s also represented his country internationally, so it’s easy to see how he stacks up against his peer group.
Over at Smaht Scouting, Alexander Appleyard was critical of Robertsson’s decision-making with the puck and passing execution, but raved about a particular aspect of his game:
It is no exaggeration to state that the Piteå product is the best shooter in the draft. Most current NHL wingers wish they had the ability to catapult a puck of their stick like Robertsson does. He is the kind of player who can pick a corner from outside the circles, but also has the power to shoot “through” a goalie. While for most players a nick off a blocker would send the puck into the rafters, the robust winger has a habit of hurrying goalies who appear set, and often it is the case that a piece of the puck is not enough to prevent it nestling in the net.
Nick Richard of Dobber Prospects laid out several aspects of Robertsson’s game:
Robertsson is a strong skater with better straight-line speed than agility. He competes hard and forechecks effectively but his shot is what stands out at first glance. His release is deceptive, as he is able to let it go from multiple points within his shooting motion and he can hammer one-timers from the top of the circle on the powerplay. He is also a capable distributor but sometimes struggles to execute when pressured. Overall, Robertsson is a well-rounded offensive player with enough tools to be an effective NHLer even if never reaches his full potential as a top-six goal-scoring winger.
Robertsson played a lot of hockey in 2020-21 in a few different places:
- He had 20 points in 15 games in the J20 Nationell before it shut down in early November.
- He had 2 points in 22 games in the SHL
- He had 3 points in 7 games in HockeyEttan’s regular season, then 3 points in 5 qualification playoff games.
- He had 4 points in 7 games at the Under-18 Worlds, capturing bronze.
Notably, Robertsson played two SHL games during the J20 season. His other 20 SHL games were spread out between mid November and mid February, at which point he was moved to HockeyEttan. He finished those commitments in early April, then headed to Texas for the U-18s.
Despite all this jostling around, Robertsson had a productive offensive year. He was tied for 15th in J20 Nationell scoring and 11th in points-per-game among players who played 10 or more games. In the SHL, he was tied for fourth in points and games played by a U-18 player, a nice feat in a league that tends not to play youngsters very much.
Availability and fit
Robertsson is a solid, if somewhat imperfect, fit for the Flames’ needs and drafting tendencies. On one hand, he’s a talented Swede who can score goals and drive play. On the other hand, he’s a left shooting winger and the Flames desperately need centres (and preferably right shot centres). The criticisms surrounding his execution are also a bit of a challenge, particularly since the Flames flat-out need people who can score key goals at key times.
Here’s a snapshot of where the major draft evaluators have Robertsson relative to the rest of the 2021 class:
McKeen’s Hockey — 14th
Future Considerations — 14th
The Athletic (Corey Pronman) — 51st
Dobber Prospects — 8th
TSN (Bob McKenzie) — 28th
Draft Prospects Hockey — 36th
NHL Central Scouting (European Skaters) — 11th
Recruit Scouting — 20th
EliteProspects.com — 30th
Smaht Scouting — 18th
The general scouting consensus is Robertsson is probably a first round pick, but he’s a late first round pick.