August 15 2011 11:06AM
At Canucks training camp last year, the promising six-foot three Swedish defenseman Peter Andersson was the toast of camp. The team was comparing him to Alex Edler in the press and marvelling at his combination of size, speed and skill with the puck. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2009 NHL draft - Peter Andersson was hailed as another excellent find by the Canucks European scouting bureau. And why not? Andersson was bouncing around between the Frolunda U18s and 20s in his draft year, then as a nineteen year old made the Swedish World Jr. team, played well, earned a contract with the Canucks and broke in on Frolunda's third pairing by the end of the 2009/10 season. Coming into training camp this year, however, Andersson has lost a fair bit of his "exciting prospect" lustre - the large twenty-year old is coming off of a disappointing 2010/11 season, and his progress appears to have flatlined.
Now, in fairness to Andersson - he's still only twenty years old, and blueliners tend to develop more slowly than forward prospects. However, his 2010/11 season was not what the Canucks, the Frolunda Indians or the fans of either team were hoping for. Describing this season as a "set back" is probably accurate.
I went through Andersson's game-logs with Frolunda and what I found wasn't pretty. If you go to his hockeyligan.se profile it will credit him with 27 games played - but, though he dressed for 27 games, he only appeared on the ice in 14 of them. Worse, it looks to me from the TOI numbers, like Andersson was slotted in as a top 4 Dman at the beginning of the season, but quickly fell down the depth chart after only two regular season Elitserien games. For the next few months he was on the fourth blueline pairing (they dress eight defenseman in European hockey leagues), if he played at all. Andersson was eventually loaned to Boras of the Allsvenskan, which, is basically the Swedish relegation league. Here's Peter Andersson's game-log from his time with Frolunda, (counting only games in which he saw the ice):
|Sept 17th||Timrå IK||0||0||-2||17:09|
|Oct 2nd||Södertälje SK||0||0||0||2:16|
|Oct 7th||Linköpings HC||0||0||0||14:06|
|Oct 9th||Luleå HF||0||0||0||16:59|
|Oct 21st||Timrå IK||0||0||0||5:01|
|Oct 26th||Djurgårdens IF||0||0||1||6:36|
|Oct 28th||Skellefteå AIK||0||0||-1||17:34|
|Nov 4th||Luleå HF||0||0||0||4:37|
|Nov 16th||Skellefteå AIK||0||0||-2||9:52|
January 6th was Andersson's final appearance with Frolunda's main team. He was shipped out to Boras where he continued to perform somewhat poorly. According to Eliteprospects.com - in his thirty appearances with the team, he put up two goals and two assists while playing to a +4 (I was unable to find his TOI data). This represents another step back for Andersson who put up six points (two goals, four assists) in only 10 games with Boras in the season previous. The season's lone bright spot was when Andersson rejoined Frolunda's U20 team for the postseason and contributed four points (a goal and three assists) in seven games.
Andersson still has the physical tools to "make it" as an NHLer. His size, speed, slap-shot velocity and even his hands are vouched for in every account of his play that I can find. Clearly, however, Andersson has yet to put it all together and live up to the physical tools he reportedly possesses. The hope has to be that he can stick with Frolunda in the Elitserien this year, and demonstrate some consistency. Overall, I'd say Canucks fans should adjust our expectations of Peter Andersson going forward - he's well below the level demonstrated by the other Canucks d-men prospects, and is very much a long-term project.