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Nation Network 2017 Prospect Profiles: #42 – Marcus Davidsson

We’re looking at yet another Swedish prospect today. This time it’s Djurgardens forward Marcus Davidsson, a speedy and skilled prospect that excels in plenty of different areas, although he isn’t considered elite in any of them. Davidsson spent nearly the entire season in the SHL, a great sign for a young prospect. His point totals weren’t all that gaudy, which some take as disappointing – but you have to remember that it’s a win just to be there in the first place sometimes, and once you account for ice time, things look a little rosier.

He’s not a top flight offensive prospect, but he’s certainly got some offensive tools – Davidsson could reward a team that picks him in the right spot. He comes in at number 42 on our list.

Bio:

  • Age: 18 – November 18th, 1998
  • Birthplace: Tyreso, SWE
  • Frame: 6’0″ / 192 lbs
  • Position: Centre/Wing
  • Handedness: Left
  • Draft Year Team: Djurgardens IF
  • Accomplishments/Awards: J20 SuperElit Playoffs MVP, J20 SM Gold Medal, Hlinka Memorial Silver Medal, U18 WJC Silver Medal, (15/16); U17 WHC Bronze Medal (14/15); TV-Pucken Bronze Medal (13/14)

Stats

Career

Cohort Based (pGPS)

Scouts

From Future Considerations:

A well-rounded, two-way center…has a still-developing, yet strong, skating stride that produces surprising amounts of speed…solid agility and power in his still-thin legs…is not afraid to take the puck to the net or drive the crease without it, looking for a rebound opportunity…not flashy, but has skilled enough hands and strength to protect the puck as he moves through traffic…utilizes his teammates with his deft puck-distribution ability or just by utilizing them as decoys…can find seams and lanes through sticks and bodies to get pucks to teammates in prime scoring position…has good defensive awareness and is always in strong position to support the defense by applying back pressure…will pick up for teammates’ missed assignments…not physical, but will step into an opponent to separate the puck as well as battle for position deep in the offensive zone…has plenty of growth left in his game and could develop into a strong, playmaking, two-way center.

From The Hockey News Draft Preview (Excerpt from publication):

Watching a player such as Davidsson play among men in the Swedish League can sometimes create confusion for scouts, who often have to decide whether a young player is simply overmatched because of his age or if his production there should be raising red flags. Such is the situation with Davidsson, who didn’t look out of place in 45 games with Djugarden but didn’t do much to distinguish himself either. Davidsson is a two-way centre who is not a big kid but is solid and stocky. His most prominent attribute is his skating.

From Jimmy Hamrin of McKeen’s Hockey (Excerpt only – full article behind pay wall):

Marcus Davidsson started the season strong and was doing great the first half of the season in SHL. He was productive and stepped up and scored some big goals for his team at 18 years of age. He almost started to look as a slam dunk first round pick early on. Unfortunately, the second half of the season was not as good. After Christmas he contributed only one assist in 23 games in SHL. Being his first season at the highest senior level it does not cause much concern long term but it probably put him further down the rankings and allowed at least three or four other Sweden-based players to step ahead of him during the season. Davidsson is a smart offensive player that has shown to have top six potential. He reminds me a bit of Loui Eriksson in the sense that he is more of a quiet but smart player who can score points more than the guy who drives the offensive plays on his line.

From Corey Pronman of ESPN (Excerpt only – full article behind pay wall):

Scouts I talk to overseas have one common description of Davidsson: smart. He’s a versatile player. He can play center or the wing effectively and play a role on both special teams. Davidsson skates at an above-average level, sometimes flashing a very high grade. He can make some offensive plays, but I wouldn’t describe him as a dangler — more as a quick decision-maker with decent vision. He’ll work hard to win pucks and projects to have value defensively as a pro.

From The Draft Analyst:

A speedy pivot and an absolute assassin near the net, Davidsson gets too much grief for having a poor international tournament resume. He’s always been one of Sweden’s better prospects for the 2017 draft, and he played practically an entire season with Djugarden’s SHL club, potting five goal and nine points while average under 12 minutes a game. Davidsson’s instincts from the good side of the red line are excellent, but he’s not all that physical.

Our Take

Davidsson is a skilled player who is above average in most offensive aspects of the game. He has above average top speed, and he gets to it quickly. His acceleration and agility make him more dangerous over short distances and tight spaces rather than long distances and open ice. His shot isn’t overly powerful, but he has a very quick release on it, making him more of a threat to score in close than from distance, where he’d have a tough time beating goalies clean. His intelligence, vision and playmaking are also strengths of his game, making him a more adept set up man.

Defensively, Davidsson is a responsible player, and his anticipation and understanding of the game afford him the ability to break up plays and turn pucks over, quickly forcing the play in the other direction.

Djurgarden was a poor team this season, finishing 10th of 14 SHL teams in the standings, and carrying a minus-18 goal differential. Davidsson wasn’t unscathed, being on the ice for four more goals against than far, but for the most part he held his own even when placed in defensive situation.

The mid-sized forward averaged 11:12 of ice time over 45 games, scoring five goals and nine points. That sort of production isn’t eye popping, but it isn’t as bad as some would have you believe, as we revisit this quote from The Hockey News Draft Preview:

Watching a player such as Davidsson play among men in the Swedish League can sometimes create confusion for scouts, who often have to decide whether a young player is simply overmatched because of his age or if his production there should be raising red flags.

Once we account for age and ice time, the production isn’t really all that bad, so being overmatched shouldn’t be applicable and talk of red flags seems quite premature. Seen here plotted against other first time draft eligible prospects that played in the SHL this year, Davidsson is in the upper echelon, with a 5-on-5 Goals per 60 Minutes that is comparative to top prospect Lias Andersson, while playing on a worse team that the three players above him (how about Jesper Boqvist here by the way, damn).

Using the cohort plots displayed above, you can see that his points per game stats shouldn’t disappoint either, considering how many successful NHL players scored at the same rate as he has this season, including Jakob Silfverberg, Alex Steen, Marcus Johansson and Loui Eriksson. It seems that some evaluators are still struggling to put the league a prospect plays in into perspective.

If you are going to nitpick one thing about Davidsson’s season, it might be the fact that nearly all of his points came in the first half.

That second half has led to some question marks, which is fair. But his shot rate stayed relatively constant throughout the season, and the coaching staff didn’t seem to have any major problems with his play as his ice time remained fairly stable as well. This could be an issue of luck and unfortunate bounces and nothing more than that, but interested teams will surely want to delve deeper.

In limited action in the Swedish junior league SuperElit, Davidsson put up six goals and 10 points in nine games, which could have made his struggling parent club confident that he would be of more use in the pros. Davidsson may have been a bit of a tweener this season, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t warrant serious consideration as a prospect. He spent nearly an entire season as a professional, and we note time and time again how producing any points at all in the SHL in one’s draft year vastly increases the odds of panning out in the NHL.

Are Davidsson’s numbers in the SHL world-beating? No. But that’s why he’s ranked in the middle of the second round and not the top of the first. That doesn’t mean he won’t cut it as a prospect, and at the right point in the draft, he could be an excellent pick up.