Over the past 4 weeks, this platform has played host to the prospect series, where we ranked and profiled what we believed to be the Top 20 prospects in the Canucks system. Throughout the process it became obvious fairly quickly that, while the top-end talent is definitely present, there’s not much depth to the pool. The first handful of players that came up were difficult to take seriously considering that most of them will never enjoy a single relevant NHL moment; with my apologies going out to the families of luminaries like Alex Friesen and Yann Sauve, of course.
While we were making our way through the countdown, the name Ludwig Blomstrand kept surfacing time and time again. The curious part of it all was that Blomstrand’s name never actually appeared on our actual list, but instead kept being bandied about by readers of the blog in both the comments sections and on Twitter. I found it sort of bizarre, personally, since he hadn’t been on my radar at all. In fact, out of our 5 rankers, only 1 – Patrick Johnston, who would probably defend himself were it not for that giant bus currently trampling him – even had Blomstrand in his Top 20. And he had him at number 18.
But at some point, I started to ask myself whether it was possible that this wasn’t all some sort of elaborate inside joke. What if, by some odd chance, this cult following that Ludwig Blomstrand had seemingly accrued was actually justified? What if all of the other rankers and I were totally missing something here?
Read on past the jump for more.
The Canucks took Blomstrand with their 4th rounder (120th overall) back in ’11, before "settling" for Frankie Corrado at 150, and Henrik Tommernes at 210. He finally signed with the team this past March, before promptly joining the Chicago Wolves for the end of the season.
Blomstrand started the year off with Djurgardens (in the Allsevenkan, which is the Swedish second league) miserably, failing to register a single point in 14 games. Just how bad was he during that time? Well, let’s just say that it’s probably not a great sign that his highlight reel from that stretch is constituted of a random pass he made, a pokecheck in his which he helped clear the zone, and a super questionable hit from behind that laid some poor sap out.
After being moved to Altuna, he picked things up, scoring 13 goals in the final 30 games of the season. I honestly don’t know much about his performance in Sweden at all other than those numbers, but obviously the way he finished the year off was promising. For what it’s worth, I’ve read that the massive uptick in production is a result of playing on Altuna’s top line after having been used sparingly during his days in Djurgardens.
He then went on to play 8 games in the AHL, scoring once. The best thing that came from that stretch was this Youtube video of that one lone goal:
The dramatic music cracks me up, as does the fact that his biggest believers would probably use this as evidence that "he’s willing to go to the dirty areas", while in reality, he casually sauntered in to finish off a lucky bounce, made possible by the defender butchering his assignment.
From what I gather, fans of his probably exist for one of two reasons:
a) He is listed at 6’2”, 220lbs, and we all know that hockey fans tend to have some sort of weird fetish when it comes to size. Maybe he if grows another inch, and gains a few pounds, he could be the Next Milan Lucic? Probably not, but only because..
b) When the team drafted him, Laurence Gilman had the following things to say: “He’s very much like Jannik Hansen. He’s a tremendous skater who plays with some level of tenacity. We think he can be a solid two-way guy in the NHL “
No pressure, though. As an aside: can we get out of the habit of comparing prospects to current NHL players that not only started from a higher base, but worked their tails off for years just to reach the point that they’re at? It’s not fair to the prospect, and it’s not fair to the player that he’s being compared to. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. But I digress.
The fact remains that there isn’t all that much information out there regarding Blomstrand. Hockey’s Future – definitely not the be-all and end-all, but still another useful source – has him rated as a 6.0 C prospect. That basically means that his potential as a prospect is that of a 3rd line winger (an example being Matt Cooke), who may reach said potential, but may also ultimately wind up being just a minor league forward. Take that for what it’s worth.
I also got in touch with ESPN’s Corey Pronman, who had the following to say on Blomstrand as a prospect:
"Potential bottom 6 guy. Good to very good skater. Works hard, above-average hockey sense, lacks any skill. He’s 16-20 for me in terms of VAN prospects."
So what’s next for him? He’ll be participating in Young Stars Classic set to take place in Penticton this weekend. I suspect that he’ll wind up spending his first full year in North America as a member of the Utica Comets. After that, your guess is as good as mine. For the record, in his age 20 season, Jannik Hansen put up 34 points in 72 games for the Manitoba Moose, before appearing in 10 playoff games as a Canuck. Every prospect develops at his own pace, but those seem like pretty lofty goals for Blomstrand to reach this year.
Ultimately, I think we were wrong on Blomstrand as rankers. I still think that the people who were incredulous that he wasn’t in our rankings need to take a second, settle down, and drink a cooler (What Would Getzlaf Do?). But he should have appeared on the list instead of someone like Yann Sauve. That’s my regret, because Blomstrand could potentially make the NHL one day, while I already know that Sauve is no good.
When we put together our rankings at the end of July, Blomstrand wasn’t even on my radar, quite frankly. When I started putting together this profile, I figured it was destined to be a mostly tongue-in-cheek bit in which I mocked Blomstrand, and his supporters. But after giving it some more thought, I’m open to the decision of re-adjusting and having him somewhere in my 17-19 range.
That’s to say that I don’t think it’s an egregious oversight by our staff (myself included), but there’s merit to the belief that he should have been given more consideration. It’s sort of a hedge, really. Most of the guys in that range definitely have certain attributes that make us believe they could one day become something useful if everything went as planned, but may also very well never wind up amounting to anything more than AHL fodder.
A few closing thoughts on the series itself (that I tweeted out on Friday afternoon, but will repeat here):
*These rankings were subjective, and I speak for everyone involved when I say that we weren’t in any way trying to tell you that we definitively know who these guys will wind up being as players when all is said and done. Far from that. There is nothing definitive about these rankings. The whole point was to gather up as much information as possible on each of them, in an attempt to get fans of the team familiar with them as prospects, and to create a healthy discussion. I think we did that.
*Next summer, if I have my way, we’ll make a switch to a ‘Top 25 Under 25’ series, instead. Would you, the reader, like that format better? It would be more inclusive, and would cover more names, obviously. But suggestions for tweaks to the series are definitely more than welcome.
Other Prospect Profiles in this Series
- #20 Alex Friesen
- #19 Peter Andersson
- #18 Cole Cassels
- #17 Yann Sauvé
- #16 Joe Cannata
- #15 Patrick McNally
- #14 Darren Archibald
- #13 Alexandre Mallet
- #12 Alexandre Grenier
- #11 Joacim Eriksson
- #10 Kellan Lain
- #9 Henrik Tommernes
- #8 Joseph LaBate
- #7 Jordan Subban
- #6 Eddie Lack
- #5 Hunter Shinkaruk
- #4 Nicklas Jensen
- #3 Bo Horvat
- #2 Frank Corrado
- #1 Brendan Gaunce