What They’re Saying: The Scouting Report on Jonathan Dahlen

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Photo Credit: Niklas Larsson – Expressen

When the Canucks traded for Alex Burrows, the organization lost a huge part of what made their culture. Burrows left a legacy that, without a doubt, fans will celebrate and recount for years to come.

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In return for Burrows, the Canucks landed Jonathan Dahlen (Dah-lee-in in Swedish). The newest member of the Canucks organization is a 19-year-old forward. The return for Alex Burrows wasn’t expected to be very much – maybe a third of fourth-round pick. Ottawa selected Dahlen the 2nd round, 42nd overall in last year’s draft.

Canuck’s fans weren’t overly familiar with Dahlen at the time of the trade, and we won’t get to have a first-hand look at Dahlen until development camp. Nonetheless, I’ve got you covered with an up-to-date scouting report from two members of Hockeyprospect.com and TSN.

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Dahlen hails from the same hometown as Alex Edler, and there’s no shortage of veteran Swedish leadership when you include the Sedin twins as well. As a 2nd-round draft choice, Dahlen obviously has pedigree. Some felt he should have gone higher, while others lower. There’s a lot to like about the package that Dahlen brings, especially given the lack of middle-to-high-end prospects in the Canucks system.

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Shane Malloy: “What I like about him most is his hockey sense. He has the ability to play centre or left wing. I like him better on the left wing because he’s primarily a shooter more than a passer. He’s not the biggest guy, but he shoots the puck exceptionally well. He’s intelligent, understands where he needs to be, finds open ice; he’s opportunistic when it comes to goal scoring. I think [Ottawa] got him later than they should have at 42. I think he’s a grade A prospect.” 

Mark Edwards: “Really skilled player. This kid can score goals; really really good hands. Really skilled with the stick; quick hands. He’s not afraid to go win his own pucks and go to the net. He’ll score in tight. He’s a smart player and he can make plays. I think he’s a pretty good 200 foot guy. He’s 5’11, kind of stocky.”

Craig Button: “I know lots about Jonathan Dahlen. He’s a good goal-scorer, he’s smart around the net, he knows how to get open, he plays inside the dots. If Dahlen was a little bit better skater in his draft year, there’s a real good chance he’s a first round draft pick. When you think about the hardest things to do in the NHL – score and pay the price to score – Jonathan Dahlen does both. He’s a smart player and I have no reason to believe he will not get his pace up to a standard that will allow him to be a top 6 player in the NHL. The Ottawa Senators traded a really good prospect. He’s a competitor. He wants to score and he can play with good players. He’s not going to catch you with a lot of flash, but boy does he know how to get around the net, get scoring opportunities, and finish those opportunities. You have to be able to think quick and recognize opportunities, and that’s exactly what Jonathan does.”
Button on NHL comparables: “Maybe a Mike Cammalleri-type of player, a Radim Vrbata-type. They know how to get open, they know how to get their shot off, they know how to get in and around the net. Those are two loose examples in terms of type of players.”

Bob McKenzie: “I think he’s a good prospect. I think there’s mixed opinions but he’s good from the top of the circles down. He’s not an overly-fast skater and not an overly-strong kid. He’s really gifted in terms of his ability to score goals. A couple teams said, ‘No question he’s a really good prospect, he’s going to be a top 6 scoring winger.’ I talked to a couple teams who said that, because he’s not a dynamic skater and he’s more of a top of the circles down-guy, he slots in more at a 3rd-line winger. The consensus is he’s going to play in the NHL, the question is how high in the line-up and how any goals.”
Ray Ferraro: “Jonathan Dahlen is not a big guy. His dad, Ulf, was a big, strong guy and Jonathan is more of a darter. He can scoot and he can really handle the puck – he loves to shoot it. At the World Juniors, he was miles ahead of everybody else in the number of shots on goal.”

For Dahlen, the problem is his skating. Some describe it as awkward; others are much less critical. Skating concerns are relatively normal for NHL prospects, though. Brock Boeser’s a perfect example of a good skater/average skater. He’s not necessarily fast, but he’s powerful. Nonetheless, Canucks fans need not worry because, as we’ve all witnessed through the rapid development of Bo Horvat, skating can always be improved. Here’s what scouts said about Dahlen’s skating:

Shane Malloy: “I think it’s okay. Against his peers, he was fine because he understands how to use his speed and change his speed. Against men, you start to notice that he has some difficulties creating time and space. When you’re 180 lbs and just turned 19, that’s okay. I’m not concerned about it because he has a very good work ethic.”

Mark Edwards: “He’s not an explosive guy. I wish it was a little bit better this year – it looks about the same. Based on our rankings last year, you can see that we didn’t get too worried about it or else we wouldn’t have had him so high. He’s got a choppy little stride, doesn’t generate a ton of power. I don’t want to make it sound like his skating is absolutely brutal, its not. When they’re that size, you wish they were in the elite skating department. He doesn’t look like he’s lacking as far as strength for his size.”

Craig Button: “It can improve and it has improved. Think about Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Are they fast? No, but they play fast and they think fast. That’s what you need to do.”

Ray Ferraro: “The knock on Dahlen is he’s 170-ish pounds, and he’s listed at 5’11 which means he’s probably 5’10. He’s not a big guy, but that’s less and less relevant today than it was five years ago.”

As for ETA, it’s safe to say at least a few seasons. During Monday’s press conference, GM Jim Benning expressed his hope to sign Dahlen this summer. Should that occur, he could be sent to Utica and be under constant supervision and communication with the Canucks.

Shane Malloy: “Probably a couple years, I think you have to give him two. He could get in here quicker. I’d like to see him play in the Swedish Elite League for a full season before coming into the American league.”

Mark Edwards: “The sense I got is at least a couple years from NHL ready. Two areas he needs to work on is speed and strength. Dynamic speed and power – he doesn’t have that in his game. The physical maturity is not there yet. The fact that he’s playing in the [Allsvenskan] as a 19 year-old is a positive. The next step is probably the American Hockey League.”

At 5’11 and 180-ish pounds, Dahlen needs time. Like all young prospects, there are aspects of his game that he needs to work on to make the big league. Although he plays in tier two Swedish league, he’s playing with men, and he’s the leading scorer on his team. People have started comparing him to Filip Forsberg, but it’s hard to jump to that conclusion as of right now. Nonetheless, Dahlen looks to be a very promising player with upside.

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  • Burnabybob

    So it looks like the Canucks have added two wingers, if the scouting report on Dahlen is accurate- more a finisher than playmaker.

    So center is still probably the priority for the Canucks. They’re in a prime position to really stink it up down the stretch, with the mumps wreaking havoc and now the loss of Hansen and Burrows. If ever there was a time to tank, this is it.

    • I’m not sure now is the best time ever to tank, given that it’s literally impossible for the Canucks to finish below Colorado, and practically impossible for them to finish below Arizona. Considering that and the fact that Vegas gets the second overall pick, barring *incredible* lottery luck, the highest the Canucks are likely to pick this season is fourth.

      They’re probably getting a 4-6 pick anyway without trying to tank, so might as well finish the season with a shred of dignity.

      • Burnabybob

        My point is, this team can compete as hard as they want and they’re still likely going to lose more than they win. They’re undermanned, and they’ve got a tough schedule coming up. They might as well get some of the youngsters in there- maybe give Jordan Subban a shot.

        • JuiceBox

          “They’re undermanned, and they’ve got a tough schedule coming up. They might as well get some of the youngsters in there”

          That approach has derailed many promising re-builds. It’s all about optics and attitude. Having wins and losses become secondary is basically throwing in the towel and giving up. It’s one thing to ice the best line-up possible and be bad, it’s another to ice a sub-optimal line up and be bad on purpose. They can’t just roll over and accept poor play and losing for the sake of playing kids. That environment can turn toxic in an instant.

  • Steamer

    Skating & strength should improve with time; extremely high hockey IQ coupled with an accurate, hard shot & willingness to go to the net. Solid prospect, good return on Burrows.

  • krutov

    we seem to have a united nations of 5′ 11″ 180ish lb high skill forwards.

    dahlen
    granlund
    goldobin
    baertschi
    lockwood

    we just need a canadian kid now. maybe give stecher an honourable mention.

    should make life easier for the equipment manager when ordering clothes and gear.

  • Good article Vanessa. I like that you include the basics. Height, weight, and position played along with stats. Thorough and complete.

    Dahlen plays left wing. Boeser plays the right side and this coming draft is the time for us to snag a center.

  • krutov

    watching last night’s game, we may not be tanking but willie has loosened the reins. that team was playing detroit straight up, not trying to compete for a playoff spot.

    canucks have now stealth tanked two years in a row. benning is like orr from catch 22.

  • UKCanuck

    Kid looks like he loves scoring goals! Couple of nices dishes in there too. Not sure he will get the same time and space hanging around the net front in the NHL that he has in Swe2!