If the Calgary Flames have a fall-back mechanism in their drafting strategy, it might be “when in doubt, grab a Swede.” In the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Flames opted to take a forward with a lot of potential with the hopes that he can join the ranks of their many Swedish NHLers.
William Strömgren is the 13th-ranked Flames prospect on this year’s ranking.
Born Jun. 7, 2003 (age 18) in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden
6’3″, 174 pounds
Drafted in second round (45th overall) by CGY in 2021
A product of Örnsköldsvik, a town on the Gulf of Bothnia in northern Sweden, Strömgren came up through the local minor hockey system – primarily with the MODO Hockey organization.
As a 14-year-old, he had 0.71 points per game in Sweden’s top under-16 league. At 15, he had 1.68 points per game in the same league. At 16, he moved onto Sweden’s top under-18 league and had 1.68 points per game. That same season he made his debut in Sweden’s top major junior league. (He’s progressed quickly.)
In Strömgren’s draft year, which he played entirely as a 17-year-old, he bounced around a bit and played in three leagues. He played 14 games in Sweden’s junior league, amassing 1.29 points per game before the league shut down in early November due to COVID outbreaks on several teams. In 27 games in the secondary HockeyAllsvenskan, making his pro hockey debut, he had 0.33 points per game. In 11 games in the tertiary HockeyEttan, he had 1.09 points per game after joining the team in the spring in an effort to get more playing time. He also played in the Under-18 Worlds for Sweden in-between his HockeyAllsvenskan and HockeyEttan stints, capturing a bronze medal.
Despite not playing a ton, Strömgren led all first-time draft eligible players in HockeyAllsvenskan in even strength primary points, overall primary points and points, and he tied for the lead in goals and even strength goals. He also led all first-time draft eligible major junior players in even strength primary points and goals. He didn’t produce a ton on the power play, though – Oskar Olausson, Liam Dower Nilsson, Marcus Almquist, Hugo Gabrielsson and Simon Robertson, among others, all out-produced him on special teams.
That said, Strömgren is a very solid two-way player and his five-on-five results suggest that his overall offensive production has a lot of upward potential. He just needs to start converting that potential into goals and assists more consistently.
Alex Potack of Dobber Prospects noted Strömgren’s boom-or-bust potential:
Strömgren is a boom-or-bust type player. He has flashes of excellence then disappears for 3 games. His hands are fast and deceptive and he has a strong shot. When he best utilizes these skills, he can be a very intimidating player to face. Far too often, Strömgren becomes invisible and he can look lost without possession of the puck. If he is to make an NHL roster one day, which he certainly could, he needs to become a more frequent contributor. Strömgren is leaving MoDo of HockeyAllsvenskan for Rögle of the SHL this season. He has an opportunity to demonstrate his strengths, hopefully at a more consistent level, on an powerhouse team and must take advantage of that.
Expectations for 2021-22
After bouncing around a bunch last year, Strömgren will be on more stable ground as he’ll be a full-time pro in the top level of Swedish pro hockey, the SHL, with Rogle BK. The tendency in Swedish men’s leagues is for veterans to get the most and best playing time and for youngsters like Strömgren to fill in the gaps. The challenge for Strömgren will be to find himself a niche and force himself into a key role, and the way for him to do that will be to find his consistency.
He’ll also get a chance to shine among his peers. He’s participating in the Four Nations Cup under-20 tournament, one of the precursor events to the upcoming World Juniors. As an Under-18 National Team member he’s on his country’s radar, but Sweden has a tendency of taking more 19-year-olds than 18-year-olds, so Strömgren will need to impress to force his way onto the team for the 2022 tournament. At the very least, though, he’s on their radar, and he’ll have a good chance at cracking the World Junior roster in 2023.