The Lowetide Top 20 values offense, range of skills and the idea that the more ways most players can make it to the NHL, the better their chances. In ranking Filip Berglund ahead of a plethora of pro players and several prospects in junior and college, it is with range of abilities in mind. He has a long way to go before we know about Filip Berglund, but the possibilities are the most intriguing among Edmonton’s remaining prospects.
PREVIOUSLY NO. 11 ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: L Tony Salmelainen (70) (GM: Glen Sather)
- December 2005: D Bryan Young (17) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2006: G Jeff Deslauriers (62) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2007: D Theo Peckham (160) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2008: D Taylor Chorney (126) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2009: D Johan Motin (1) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2010: G Devan Dubnyk (315) (GM: Kevin Lowe)
- December 2011: D Colten Teubert (24) (Trade by Tambellini)
- December 2012: C Anton Lander (209) (GM: Steve Tambellini)
- December 2013: L Mitchell Moroz (0) (GM: Craig MacTavish)
- December 2014: C Marco Roy (0) (GM: Craig MacTavish)
- December 2015: C Bogdan Yakimov (1) (GM: Craig MacTavish)
Once again, we have Dubnyk and a bunch of question marks, and that (for me) seems reasonable. Goaltenders are always a difficult bet, and the list routinely punishes them (after the early years of ranking) severely. Berglund fits in with this list, but we hope for better results.
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Elite Prospects: A big and strong two-way defenseman with good hockey sense and passing ability. Valuable on the man advantage with a strong release and good puck control. Not a speedster and should use his large frame to his advantage.
- The Black Book No. 91. Despite the large frame and not the fastest stride, Berglund actually has good finesse with the puck. He controls the puck very well and uses his size to protect it. He has good vision and can regularly execute accurate passes. When defending Berglund’s size helps and his defensive instincts are decent, but he is not a very physical player when considering his frame. His skating will also need to get better, he doesn’t have the prettiest stride in the world and he could stand to further improve his footwork along with his acceleration as he can be slow getting to pucks.
- Swedish Poster: He’s a big kid at 6’3 and already past 200 pounds. He’s an overager, (now) 19. His draft year was sort of a comeback year after missing a lot of time the previous two seasons due to a broken arm or maybe it was a leg. This year he was up to speed and delivered one hell of a season offensively nearly hitting PPG. As is usually the case with productive D the majority of the points came on the PP where his big shot from the blue line was full value. He scored at nearly a goal per game and a lot was due to his great shot. He got better and better as the season rolled along, one thing I like to look at for guys in swedish juniors is how they produce in the Superelit top 10 part of the season, what that means is after Christmas the top 5 teams of the northern and southern divisions are put together into one 10 team league where they play for the playoff spots. It’s interesting because the level of play goes up and there are fewer teams to pad your stats against. In that segment of the year he scored 1.31 PPG over 16 games. For a D that’s pretty amazing. Small sample obviously but combined with his overall scoring the whole year it paints a very flattering picture offensively. Source
CULLEN’S CHANCES-BERGLUND AT NO. 91 OVERALL
- “Average” is a minor leaguer, under 50 NHL games
- The best in this range are men like Alex Edler
- There’s a 4.8% chance he’ll be at least a top four defender
- There’s a 24% chance he will play 100 games in his career.
- There’s a 90.5% chance he’ll be just an NHL regular or worse.
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2016: No. 9
- Winter 2016: No. 11
These are early days for young Berglund, and his ranking in the middle of the Top 20 is based on more potential than delivery. That said, he is playing in Sweden’s top league and beginning to take on more playing time. These are good arrows.
SHL NUMBERS (BERGLUND V. KLEFBOM)
I present this not to suggest that Filip Berglund should be considered on the same level as Klefbom—clearly the evidence here tells a different story. However, we should also take in what the young man has accomplished so far in his 19-year old season. I have him behind junior defenders Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones on this Top 20, and that seems right at this point. There have been surges in playing time (last five games: 6:09, 11:15, 13:21, 13:06 and 4:54) and that is also a positive sign. The SHL site has Berglund now at 6.028 and 209 pounds. He will have NHL size if and when he arrives.
- Swedish Poster: After sitting out the first two games Filip Berglund got his first few minutes of the season when Skellefteå won 3-2 tonight. He was the 7th D and only got 7:30ish of TOI so he didn’t have time to put much of a mark on the game.
- Swedish Poster: I wouldn’t worry too much about his early lack of ice time. This is usually the road for young D in the SHL, especially more offensively gifted ones. They have to earn their trust over the vets and really take the chance when given, and Skellefteå do have a solid group of vets on and they won’t be easy to leapfrog.
- Swedish Poster: If he still struggles with ice time in 1-2 months they usually loan them to an Allsvenskan team if they feel he needs more regular ice time. It’s not a bad route at all.
- Swedish Poster: A lot of the time the player is much improved and gets much more ice time as the year rolls along in either allsvenskan or the SHL. I’m personally encouraged that he gets an early taste, despite only one injured D (former NHL tweener Kyle Cumiskey btw).
In placing Berglund here, we reach the end of the group of defensemen (there are five) who are both developing and can be termed two-way defenders. The group after this may have one strong dimension that exceeds these names (Matt Benning, Ziyat Paigin, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Berglund) but cannot be counted on to emerge as complete talents.
Berglund’s progress has been interesting, and his gathering of points/playing time give us some hope. His size/skill package would be very useful in the NHL, and added to his passing ability there may be a player here. It will be interesting to see if Berglund comes over next fall—there could be a logjam, although Peter Chiarelli may set free a murder of defensemen from the AHL.
THE 2016 DRAFT
- Jesse Puljujarvi—No. 4 overall. Edmonton has another tremendous talent in Puljujarvi, who is an aware player all over the ice at 18—very rare. He has shown real flashes off offense, but is on pace for 29 points in 78 games—some may feel that is low for a lottery pick (it is in the range of my RE back in the summer). No. 1 prospect, Winter Top 20.
- Tyler Benson—No. 32 overall. Injury made him unable to showcase his talent during training camp, but once back with the Vancouver Giants (WHL) he established himself as a bona fide talent. He is currently 22gp, 8-16-24 on an offensively challenged team. No. 2 prospect, Winter Top 20.
- Markus Niemelainen—No. 63 overall. Niemelainen is a big (6.05, 200 on draft day) defenseman with speed and raw skills. He has two-way ability but that has not shown itself in Saginaw (OHL) where he has just two points in 21 games this season. Ranked inside Top 20.
- Matthew Cairns—No. 84 overall. He is another defenseman who has much development ahead, but in this case there appears to be an offensive payoff clearly visible. Now 14gp, 0-4-4 with the Fargo Force. He is big and has a nice range of skills.
- Filip Berglund—No. 91 overall. He is the most interesting defenseman in the group, owing to both range of skills and the fact he is already playing in a pro league (SHL, 20gp, 0-4-4). Has enough finesse to be considered a puck mover, he has good vision and is an excellent passer. A very nice skill set. NHLE is 10 points—but that is playing eight minutes a night. No. 11 prospect, Winter Top 20.
- Dylan Wells—No. 123 overall. Began very strong and has now fallen back to .913SP. Still major progress and he is hanging in while playing for a challenged team. Candidate for Top 20.
- Graham McPhee, No. 149 overall. Intriguing selection (Corey Pronman liked him) and I wonder if he is (like Niemelainen and Cairns) something of a draft and follow. His early Boston College numbers (16gp, 0-4-4) are solid, but so much of college hockey numbers depend on playing time. Kind of a mystery at this point. Candidate for Top 20.
- Aapeli Rasanen, No. 153 overall. He is an early candidate for top draft steal among the Oilers kids chosen after No. 100 (USHL numbers—16gp, 4-11-15). A true center, he is an excellent passer who can finish, plays in all disciplines and is a fine face-off man. An impressive group of skills for so late in the draft, he is described as having average foot speed. Inside the Top 20.
- Vincent Desharnais, No. 183 overall. His season started late (the big brains at Providence College are doing the book learning early) but now stands at 8gp, 1-0-1. Steve Kournianos told us in summer that Providence was bringing in youngsters like Jacob Bryson and that playing time was going to be an issue. Outside the Top 20.
ROLLING TOP 20
- The Oilers five best defensive prospects (according to my list) are all outside the AHL at this time. That suggests to me we could see a mass exodus from the Condors current group of defensemen next summer during contract time.
- The forwards badly need more offensive types, suspect we will see plenty of attention on that area at the draft table and in college free agency come the offseason.
- Of the 11 men listed here, eight have been procured during the Peter Chiarelli era. Only Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev and Tyler Pitlick remain.
- If you were to say that Jesse Puljujarvi is the only lock, and that the other 10 men could fall short of 200 career games, I don’t think anyone could reasonably disagree. Benning does seem to be a pretty strong bet based on early results, but this is first blush.
- The 2010 Winter Top 20 boasted four actual NHL players in Hall, Eberle, Dubnyk and Petry—plus a few who could still get there someday. That should be considered the outer marker for any December list.