2023 FlamesNation prospect rankings: #19 William Strömgren
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
In hockey, as in the rest of life, sometimes development and progression isn’t linear or instantaneous. In short, sometimes it takes awhile for young draftees to become what the drafting team hopes and dreams they can become. In the case of Swedish forward William Strömgren, a second-round selection by the Calgary Flames in the 2021 NHL Draft, his progression has been steady but a bit under the radar given the peculiarities of Swedish hockey.
Now potentially set for a season in North America, Strömgren lands at 19th on our annual prospect countdown after placing 16th in 2022.
Born June 7, 2003 (20 years old) in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden
6’3″, 181 lbs
Drafted in the second round (45th overall) by Calgary in 2021
A product of Örnsköldsvik, in central Sweden, Strömgren came up in local minor hockey, primarily with MODO Hockey in his hometown. He played his 15, 16 and 17-year-old seasons with MODO, working his way into high-level under-16, under-18 and under-20 leagues in Sweden.
He made his pro debut for MODO in 2020-21, his 17-year-old season, playing in the second-tier HockeyAllvenskan, and also spent time on loan in the third-tier HockeyEttan with another hometown team, Örnsköldsvik HF. While Strömgren’s draft year saw him bounce around quite a bit – he played in three different leagues and represented Sweden at the men’s Under-18 Worlds – he showed enough to generate some buzz among scouts. He was ranked 46th by FC Hockey (and 14th among International skaters by Central Scouting).
The Flames selected Strömgren at 45th overall. He was selected ahead of players like Logan Stankoven and Matthew Knies, and much of the discourse around Strömgren has focused on who he isn’t, not who he is.
“He’s got a lot of raw ability, so we just need to get him the necessary instances where he can learn when he can use his skill instead of… I know he’s a dynamic personality, like he wants to use his skill all the time. So he’s just got to learn through experience and playing at higher levels that you can’t beat guys one-on-two all the time. But he’s got reach, he’s got vision, he’s a really good skater, he’s got quick feet. He’s just got to gain experience and go through the necessary development.”
So there are a few things to bear in mind with Strömgren. He spent 2021-22 and 2022-23 in Sweden. Typically what happens with Swedish pro teams, SHL teams especially, is they lean on veterans. Unless you’re an exceptional young player, odds are you’re playing a secondary, complimentary role, because that’s how things work over there. You break into the team as a teenager or in your early 20s, play down the rotation and work your way up as you grow and mature (and older players depart).
So if you’re Strömgren, an 18-year-old in 2021-22 and a 19-year-old in 2022-23, you’re either playing big minutes on a junior team or playing in a smaller role in the SHL. He played 2021-22 with Rögle BK and bounced between their junior and SHL teams. He had 36 points in 44 junior games, and zero points in 6 SHL games. He moved to Brynäs IF early in 2022-23, where he played 45 games, generated eight points, and began to carve out a niche as a two-way checking winger. Strömgren also worked himself onto Sweden’s entry at the World Juniors, generating an assist in seven games.
When the Swedish season wound down, Brynäs found themselves relegated from the SHL to HockeyAllsvenskan. That circumstance dissolved Strömgren’s SHL contract, leading to him agreeing to an entry-level contract with the Flames. He spent a couple games with the American Hockey League’s Calgary Wranglers on an amateur try-out at the end of the season, primarily to get acclimated with the city and staff before his full-time move in 2023-24.
We reached out to Jimmy Hamrin, a Swedish scout for EP Rinkside, for his insights into Strömgren’s game:
“Lanky winger with strong lateral skating ability. He is fast over distances and can travel with the puck. At senior level he has struggled to find ways to play to his strengths. He needs to connect better to the plays to get open and find the right lanes to get the room to maneuver with stick handling and high pace. If he can find the keys needed, he can have a fast development to more success.”
Expectations for 2023-24
The 2023-24 season will be Strömgren’s first on his three-year entry-level deal with the Flames. CapFriendly notes that there’s a European assignment clause in his deal this coming season, so there’s a mechanism to arrange a loan for Strömgren to a European team – probably if it’s felt he’s not getting enough developmental reps with the Wranglers.
So the big question will be how well can Strömgren acclimate to the North American game and carve out a niche in the AHL. He’s a left shot winger, and he’ll be vying with the likes of Emilio Pettersen, Lucas Ciona, Martin Pospisil and potentially Parker Bell for playing time with the Wranglers. If Strömgren has some growing pains, or looks like he won’t be a regular in the forward rotation, it’s doubtful he’ll be sent to Rapid City of the ECHL – it’d probably mean he’s headed back to Europe for the balance of the season.
Strömgren’s got size, skill, smarts and he’s played a fair amount of high-end pro hockey for a 20-year-old. We’ll see if he can take all of that, put it together, and carve out a niche in the AHL this coming season.
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