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Photo Credit: Kamloops Blazers

Canucks Prospect Rankings #9: It’s been a tough year for Viktor Persson but his skillset is too impressive to ignore

We continue on through my top-10 list of Vancouver Canucks prospects with 2020 seventh-round pick Viktor Persson.

It’s been a tough six months for Persson but his skill alone has him coming in at the ninth spot on my list.

In the past six months, Persson has been one of the last cuts on Sweden’s World Junior team, had his Swedish Junior league (J20 Nationell) cancelled and had been practicing with Brynäs for the past couple of months while only getting into four games and seeing a total of 1:20 of ice time.

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He’s had a tough season but his speed, size and raw offensive talent have me excited about what he could become in the next few seasons.

Persson was loaned to the Swedish third division HockeyEttan earlier this year and found offensive success playing in a league where the skill level may have been a bit too low for him. He would likely have fit in nicely in the Swedish second division Allsvenskan league but could not find a loan and therefore was sent to the HockeyEttan.

Brynäs has his SHL rights and later saw an opportunity to get him around the SHL game even if it was just practices and 80 seconds of ice time.

There seems to be some interest for development from the SHL team and this will hopefully continue into next year when he will be making a serious push to be an everyday SHL player. If he is able to improve and rise in the depth charts for the 2021-22 season, Persson could be drawing a lot more attention in the prospect rankings. Another reason why I initially liked the Persson pick was that he was set to join the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL this season but once again, COVID-19 came in and ruined the fun.

The last time I talked to Persson about this was a couple of months ago but he said that he is still interested in coming to North America and joining the Blazers for his 20-year-old season. Persson is currently 19-years-old and will turn 20 in November. It would be great for Canucks fans to have a prospect playing locally here in BC and the Blazers will have another excellent team next year with some names like Logan Stankoven, Mats Lindgren and more young stars likely to take a step next season.

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Persson is a 6’2″ right-shot defenceman who weighs in just under 200 lbs. His biggest strength on the ice is his ability to skate around or through the opposition. Here’s an example of him doing it in the HockeyEttan and you’ll see what I mean by him being too good for that league with the rush and the goal.

An offensive defenceman, Persson loves to jump into the rush and is a good enough skater to not get caught out of position as his recovery speed looks very quick against players in the J20 leagues or HockeyEttan. He will likely need to adjust that part of his game as he makes the transition to being a full-time SHL defenceman but you don’t want that mindset to leave his game as he shows a lot of offensive potential.

Here’s a primary assist from Persson back in October when he was still playing in the top Swedish J20 league:

His offence is the thing that pops off the screen when watching him but defence certainly isn’t a negative for him. That being said, he does need to improve on positional awareness in the defensive zone as he sometimes commits too much attention to the corners or the crease and can get caught not moving his feet enough. That will take some good coaching to get him on track defensively and this will likely be the first thing that his coaches zero in on in the SHL.

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At his size, he is not afraid to throw the body around in the J20 and HockeyEttan leagues, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to bring that physicality to the SHL. I spoke with Persson back in November and he does enjoy the physical side of the game. “I see it as a good way to get out the anger sometimes,” said Persson. “I’m pretty big, so I think I need to use my body when I have the chance to.”

Persson came in at #13 on our November rankings and has risen up since then due to the film that I’ve been able to watch on him and imagining what he could be if the young teenager continues to grow his offensive prowess while adjusting a couple of things defensively to be a better all-around defenceman.

It’s likely that he pushes for an SHL job next season but I still like the idea of him coming to Kamloops and playing one season in the WHL. He wants to make it over to Utica and groom his game there and making the jump to the WHL would be a big step in that direction. If he does not come to Kamloops in the fall, he will likely be in the SHL for a minimum of two more seasons and then it’s just a bit more difficult to make a decision on when to bring him into the AHL.

The main thing we need to see next season is how he matches up against the tougher competition. He looks like a star in the J20 and Hockeyettan league but those leagues are miles and kilometres down from the AHL and a push for the AHL should be the goal for him moving forward.

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The Canucks are very high on Persson as his raw talent is can’t miss and definitely surprised some to see him drop to the Canucks in the seventh round of the 2020 draft.

We will continue to follow up with Persson and bring you the latest news on him. David Quadrelli and I conducted an interview with Persson back in November and you can listen to the whole 25-minute conversation in the tweet below!

We will see you tomorrow for #8 on the list.