NHL Draft Profile: Filip Forsberg
And so it has come to this. We have reached the end of my time throwing profiles of young, more talented people than myself. It’s been a blast.
Taking us home is the latest in a long line of Super Swedes, Filip Forsberg. In a draft filled with relatives of former NHL greats, you would not be remiss to think that Filip is related to Peter (I know I did). Sadly, he’s not. That aside, Filip is pretty damn good at hockey in his own right. Though Forsberg has only played one full year amongst the big boys in his home country, this is not any knock on his skill level or his potential. In his first and only full season in the AllSvenskan league for Leksands, Forsberg scored 8 goals and 9 assists to go along with 33 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of of plus-3. In the qualifying tournament for the Elitserein, Forsberg put up two goals and one assist in the ten games Leksands played – failing to qualify for the higher league.
Forsberg also comes with plenty of big game experience at the international level as well. He was a member of the gold medal winning Swedish team at the 2012 U20 World Junior Championships, though he only contributed 1 assist to the stat sheet. He was team captain of the silver medal winning U18 team, where he scored five goals with two assists in six games. Forsberg has also taken part in the 2011 Ivan Hlinka tournament as well as playing for the 2011 U18 World Junior team where his team once again finished with the silver medal.
Weight: 181 pounds
Position: Right Wing
Born: August 13, 1994
What People In The Know Know
Forsberg, who had 17 points in 43 games for Leksands, projects to be a future scoring winger, which might explain why the Columbus Blue Jackets might consider taking him No. 2 overall as a possible replacement for free agent to be Rick Nash. He possesses straight-line speed, but as so often is the case for European prospects, he will have to learn to cut and manoeuvre on the more compact North American ice surface.
One possible knock on Forsberg is that he not a compelling factor during Sweden’s march to its first world junior hockey championship gold medal in 31 years, barely seeing any ice as the final vs. Russia unfolded. However, he was fewer than five months removed from his 17th birthday during the WJC, which is a skaters’ tournament and 19-year-old event by and large. Forsberg’s backers would point out he had more points than any other under-18 player in his league. He also thrived against players his own age at the IIHF U18 championship in April, captaining Sweden’s silver-medallist team.
There’s a chance he could develop into an elite power forward in the NHL, but needs to add muscle to his 6-1, 190-pound frame. He loves to throw around the body and play in the trenches. He’s also a deft puck-handler who has great straight-ahead speed. The best comparison, according to NHL Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb: Corey Perry. Minus, we assume, the petulant streak.
The potential to become a power forward is eons from actually being one. There’s no telling how he’ll fill out, and who long it’ll be before he’s physically ready to compete in the NHL.
I liked Forsberg in Calgary (WJC U20s), but I really liked him in the Czech Republic (WJC U18s) when he had Elias Lindholm, a late ’94, as his centreman. I think Forsberg is that type of player that needs a top centreman to bring out the best in him. He’s definitely a guy that can finish when he’s around the net. He can win his own pucks; he’s a big strong kid and uses that size. I really like the way he powers up and down the wing. The first time I saw him I really wasn’t quite convinced that he was worthy of a top 10 pick, but after seeing him this spring I was a lot more sold, and I really like him as a player at this point
A leader who shows by example — I would compare him to Anaheim’s Corey Perry a little bit. Has a nose for the net, and often scores the big goals. He’s a creative playmaker, good skater with fine straight-ahead speed. He’s a right-handed forward with an excellent shot and an effective two-way player with a great winning attitude. Filip’s a solid puck carrier with very good puck-handling skills; mature, good size and physically strong. On top of that, he’ll sacrifice himself to make the play.
His numbers from playing against men in Sweden’s second-highest division weren’t huge, but it’s the upside and creativity that Forsberg possesses that will see him go high this year.
He was a standout at the Ivan Hlinka tournament last summer, leading Sweden with four goals in five games, but scouts were left wanting when they watched him play this season.
“I had him down as a higher-skill player than I saw him to be this year,” one scout said. “He’s definitely got skill, but when you watch him play in the men’s league, you’re more apt to say he’s a real solid two-way player.”
Forsberg has the physical tools to play in the NHL and is a more complete player than most at his age. In a rare departure, scouts like what they see from him in the defensive zone, but want more at the other end.
“He’s probably the safest pick as a forward you can find,” said another scout, “but based on the summer tournament, I thought there’d be a bit more dazzle.”
From The Horse’s Mouth
Forsberg has been hyped for about as long as any prospect in the draft and has been slated to go in the top 5 for some time now. I don’t think that there’s any doubt that he will go in the top 5 but I do doubt the reality of Forsberg being the number 2 pick. I wouldn’t rule it out, though it seems far more likely to me he’ll end the draft as a member of the Montreal Canadiens or New York Islanders.
He is currently ranked first amongst European skaters by NHL Central Scouting and his draft position will be one of the most interesting to follow come Friday night.