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2012 NHL Draft: The Swedish Prospects

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Over the past few years the Stars appear to be focusing on the Swedish leagues as a place to find good prospects. Last year Emil Molin was drafted in the fourth round. He was unranked by the CSS but the Stars scouts felt he was good enough to be drafted then. In the year before that both Patrick Nemeth and John Klingberg were drafted out of Sweden. It's not only in the draft that the Stars eyes have turned towards Sweden as can be seen through the recent signing of goaltender Cristopher Nilhstorp.

I personally feel that there is a strong possibility that during the 2012 NHL Draft that the Stars will continue developing a trend in drafting Swedish prospects. Swedish players tend not to be the highly physical power forward/physical defenseman types that are typical for many Canadian players. Instead Swedish players are usually skilled at playmaking and their two way efforts. Finding another Loui Eriksson in a draft would bode well for the Stars Future.

Beyond the jump there will be a list of Swedish prospects up for the draft this year who I think could be interesting. These include players from the first round, who should still be available when the Star pick, and throughout the rest of the draft. It will be interesting to see if the Stars continue the trend to look to Europe, in particular Sweden, for talented prospects.

Pontus Aberg LW 5"11 193 Elitserien Djurgarden
Aberg is a good skater and an excellent sniper. He might not be the biggest player in the world but he has an excellent shot and offensive skills. His raw talent if refined could make him a potential top line offensive winger. He has played in the adult league this season and despite suffering from some injury issues he has proven himself to be productive. He has elite level offensive talent but is only okay in his own end. However if he can continue developing as an effective point producing sniper he would be a valuable assest despite defensive weaknesses. He is expected to go anywhere between the 10th and 24th picks in the first round. It might not be such a stretch to hear his name called by the Stars.

Calle Andersson RD 6"1 201SuperElit Farjestad J20
Smart two way defenseman with good talents and skills but has suffered from poor skating in the past. However this year he has improved his skating until it was beyond average. He is a smart player who see the ice well and has good shooting and passing skills as well. He might not have the flashiest puck skills in the entire draft but he can get the puck up the ice effectively. He has been used with reasonable effectiveness on the Farjestad power play this season. He is also a responsible defender, not leaving his partner hanging in the wind to go and make a check. Despite his size he will have to learn to become more physical. Expected to go anywhere between the second and third rounds.

Christian Djoos LD 5"11 160 SuperElit Brynas J20
Christian Djoos is an offensively gifted and defensively responsible two way defenseman. He is an agile skater who has the ability to move the puck up the ice effectively. He is a good decision maker and has excellent passing skills which when combined with his high hockey IQ result in him making the right decision in both ends of the ice. His play in his own zone is not physical but instead he uses his smarts to ensure he is positional sound. Despite this he is willing to help defend his other team mates in his own zone if it will help them out. He would need some time to develop and hopefully grow taller and fill his frame. He is expected to go between late third and fourth rounds.

Erik Karlsson LC 6"0 162 Elitserien Frolunda J20
Erik Karlsson is a fast skating forward who plays with some grittiness to his game. At 162lbs he clearly needs to grow into his frame and improve his strength if he wants any hope of becoming an effective player at the professional level. He has a wide arrange of offensive tools which are all good but are not elite level. He works very hard in his own end picking off passes with his stickwork and shotblocking without fear. He is considered a potential character and energy player on the bottom two lines. If he grows stronger and develops on good offensive skills he could be a real surprise coming out of sweden. Projected to go anywhere between the late third round to the fifth round.

Ludvig Nillson LW/C 6"1 175 SuperElit Timra J20
Ludvig Nillson has impressive skating skills with impressive speed balance and agility. He has a shoot first mentality which results in an effective fast and hard shot. This shouldn't be confused with a sniper shot however. He uses his size to help his goal scoring attempts but is in no way a canadian style power forward. He makes sure he helps out his defenders and to cover any openings in the defensive zone. He gets most of his points by being a strong presence in front of the oppositions net during the powerplay. He hasn't got high end vision but it is decent enough for the role he plays. Needs to get bigger to continue to be effective against older opposition. Could fit a role as a typical third line grinder. Could be picked between the fifth and seventh rounds.

Gustav Rydahl LC 6"3 198 SuperElit Frolunda J20
Rydahl is a good skater considering his size but he needs to develop better foot speed. He isn't an offensively flashy player instead he relies upon his hockey smarts, his skills aren't high end but are good enough. He has many useful skills, not simply his hockey smarts, that helps his team win. He has captain several teams, including his own national team. He is effective in his own end and plays an effective two way game. He lacks the creativity to create opportunities for himself on his own but has decent playmaking abilities for others. Despite his size he is not a power forward style player but is willing to respond to calling out if it is done by someone of his own age group. He is a potential top 9 two way forward. He is a bit of an enigma where he will be drafted but could be selected as early at the fifth round.

Mikael Wikstrand LD 6"1 185 Allsvenskan Mora
Mikael Wikstrand is not a flashy offensive defenseman instead he is a quietly effective defensive defenseman who possess a calm demeanour beyond his age. He can make smart plays and relies on good positioning and stick work to disrupt onrushing forwards rather than a punishing physicality. He spent most of his season playing in the adult league for Mora and finished the season with a +8. He could potentially become an effective defenseman on the backend of an NHL team for years. He is likely to be picked in the fifth round or later.