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Calgary Flames prospect William Strömgren took a big step forward in 2023-24

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Photo credit:David Moll/Calgary Wranglers
Ryan Pike
25 days ago
It’s been said often that every prospect’s journey is different. Some players figure things out early and as soon as a year after their draft, they can look like slam-dunk picks. Some players take a little bit longer. Calgary Flames prospect William Strömgren probably belongs in the second category.
 
In his third season following his selection in the NHL Draft, Strömgren migrated to North America for the 2023-24 season and had one of the more impressive campaigns of anybody in the organization in terms of sheer progression.

The past

A product of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden – a coastal locality in northern Sweden – Strömgren is a June 2003 birthday. He’s a left shot winger listed at 6’3″ and 175 pounds.
Strömgren came up in local hockey, and played his high-level junior hockey with the MODO Hockey organization, spending three years in their system and progressing up through their under-16, under-18 and under-20 teams. He made his pro debut during his draft year, 2020-21, playing 27 games for MODO’s pro team in the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan (registering nine points) and 11 games on loan in the third-tier HockeyEttan with his hometown team (Örnsköldsvik HF), where he had 12 points.
Strömgren bounced between four different leagues during his draft year, but he performed well enough to generate some decent buzz in scouting circles – FC Hockey ranked him 46th overall. Strömgren was selected by the Flames in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft, 45th overall.
Strömgren’s next two seasons were spent with two different organizations, as he tried to carve out a role for himself in Sweden pro hockey – with the potential of him leaving Sweden for North American opportunities looming. He spent 2021-22 with Rögle BK, playing primarily with their junior team. He was a reliable two-way player in the J20 Nationell, but didn’t really have much of a role on their SHL team in the six games he played. In 2022-23 he moved to Brynäs IF early in the season. He played primarily in the SHL that year, but was a bottom-six fixture and used primarily in a defensive role.
At the end of 2022-23, Strömgren signed his entry-level deal with the Flames. He also spent a few weeks with the Wranglers on an amateur try-out deal, playing twice but primarily using that time to familiarize himself with the workings of the organization.

The present

In 2022-23, Czech import Adam Klapka came over to play for the Wranglers after signing with the Flames as a free agent. He took the first few months of the season to adjust, but he ended up having a superb second half of his year, finishing with 13 goals and 25 points over 60 games. (And he added four goals in nine playoff games.)
In 2023-24, Strömgren came to play with the Wranglers after signing his ELC with the Flames. He took the first few months of the season to adjust, but he ended up having a superb second half of his year, finishing with seven goals and 27 points over 68 games. (And he added four points in six playoff games.)
Strömgren was a bit tentative early in 2023-24, to the point where he often stood out negatively because you could see him trying to figure out what he was supposed to be doing in game situations. By Christmas, he never stood out negatively because he figured out positioning and the team’s systems. By late January, he figured out how to play his game.
He’s got size and good mobility, and his big weapon is his smarts. Once he figured out positioning and systems, he started to make good passes and worked out where the quiet areas of the game were on the ice. And that allowed him to make some really good plays.
After working through some growing pains, Strömgren ended up being a 20-year-old rookie in the second-best league in the world that managed to be a positive difference-maker for the Wranglers on several occasions.

The future

From March 1 until the end of the regular season, Strömgren had 15 points over 22 games. (His other 12 points were scored over the previous 56 games.) If you extrapolate his final 22 games over a full 72-game season, he scored at a 49 point pace. Those aren’t AHL All-Star numbers, but they’re strong secondary numbers.
Strömgren has two years left on his entry-level deal. His strong back-half of his season (and a good playoffs) has probably worked him into the call-up conversation with the big club. He’s got size, smarts and the ability to score, and he plays a style of game where he can play a lot of different roles – oddly enough, this was roughly what the Flames scouts likely saw in him during his draft year. The Flames have a lot of wingers at the NHL level right now, which sort of blocks how far Strömgren can quickly progress, but he’s done himself a ton of favours so far with how well he’s played at the AHL level.
The Flames may be winger-rich right now, but if Strömgren can show himself to be somebody that can move the retooling process forward and help the Flames win in the future, they’ll find a way to work him in.

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