This coming season is the last chance Texaco for Edmonton’s 2016 draft. Nothing came easy for the crew drafted five years ago, with top-five overall selection Jesse Puljujarvi the only established NHL player in 2020-21. Even that came late.
This fall, Tyler Benson is waiver eligible, Markus Niemelainen will be viewed differently after a strong showing in the AHL last season, and Filip Berglund will finally be at an Oilers training camp.
Is there a second NHL player from the 2016 draft? Is it Filip Berglund?
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
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- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
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- What role will he play in Bakersfield? Berglund has played in the SHL for several years, averaging almost 20 minutes a night last year. He’s coming to the AHL, a slightly less impressive league. I expect he’ll play on one of the top two pairings at even strength, and on both special teams. That was his role in Sweden.
- Uh, I don’t think so. If he played “almost 20 minutes a night in Sweden” that’s third pair, man. SHL teams often dress seven defensemen in games, Berglund’s total last season (19:37) ranked him No. 3 among Linköping’s defenders. His even-strength total, 16:19, was also third on the team.
- Who will be the other RH defenseman in the mix for big minutes? The Condors have a significant RH defenseman on an AHL deal (Vincent Desharnais) and he plays a major role. After that, Bakersfield has two youngsters (Mike Kesselring, Phil Kemp) who are just starting their pro careers.
- What does he do well? Berglund has a wide range of skills. He is mobile, a fine passer, he’s 6.03, 206. He has a large wingspan, can defend, gets pucks through from the blue line. On his draft day, speed was mentioned as a concern but he’s a more mobile defender now and should be a capable player in North America.
- What will get him to the NHL? He has multiple skills, best described as a two-way type and unlikely to spent much time on the power play should he arrive in Edmonton.
- How much will he scored in the AHL? Using NHLE and only last season as a guide, reasonable expectations for him in Bakersfield in 2021-22 would be 68 games, 5-16-21.
- So about what Theodor Lennstrom did last season? They aren’t similar players but the offense by Lennstrom in Bakersfield (2-5-7 in 19 games) is in the same ballpark of what we might expect from Berglund in 2021-22.
- Who is his main competition in Bakersfield? Kesselring is the closest in style, but Berglund is older and more established. I don’t see them as being in competition.
- What will keep him from the NHL? There’s a lot we don’t know about Berglund. I rated him just outside the second round in his draft year, based on some solid numbers. Swedish Poster chimed in and his scouting report was encouraging. And honestly, we’ve kind of been in a holding pattern since. His skating improved, his playing time and offense spiked, but he never did come over and now he’s 24. I think he’ll need to impress right away to get an NHL shot. It may not come right away, but a strong start in Bakersfield would set the stage for greater things.
- Where is he on the depth chart? The NHL right side is Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Evan Bouchard. Kris Russell can play over there. Dmitri Samorukov and Philip Broberg can play RH side. I think Berglund would safely be described as the No. 5 RH defenseman on the NHL depth chart and one of the top two RH defenders in Bakersfield. We’ll know more about him by Christmas, but there’s a lot of unknown for a guy who is already 24.
- Do you think he’ll make it? I honestly don’t know. He has talent, and plays a position NHL teams are always casting about to fill. We’ll find out where he is this winter, and go from there. Will he play in the NHL? He’s long in the tooth to ask the question, but he hasn’t given himself a chance before now, either. Terrible answer.
- It’s a tradition. Here are the estimated time on ice totals for Condors blue via Eric Rodgers: Max Gildon 20:17; Theodor Lennstrom 19:19; Markus Niemelainen 18:52; Kevin Gravel 18:17; Vincent Desharnais 17:45; Ryan Stanton 17:02; Janis Jaks 14:34; Yanni Kaldis 13:10; Mike Kesselring 12:36; Phil Kemp 11:09.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A wild morning on the way, as we kickstart the weekend on TSN1260 at 10. Steve Lansky from BigMouthSports will check in at 10:20 to talk Olympics, CFL and more. At 11, Dom Luszczyszyn from The Athletic will join us to talk about Edmonton’s offseason and why his model likes it so much. What a day for Canada, and Christine Sinclair. Music! 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you once I calm down!!