Falling into our 75th slot in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft is right-handed defender Axel Andersson.
When watching his game, there is a lot of things that make him attractive as a prospect and his skillset is easily projectable to an NHL lineup. Given NHL teams desires to get puck-moving defencemen who can play in all three zones, Andersson seems to be a perfect candidate for a third round (and maybe even 2nd round) selection in this upcoming draft.
Let’s take a look at the Swedish defenceman.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.60/ February 10, 2000
- Birthplace: Jarna, SWE
- Frame:6-foot-0/ 179 lbs
- Position: Defence
- Handedness: Right
- Draft Year Team: Djurgardens IF J20(Superelit)
- U17 WHC Gold Medal
- Hlinka Memorial Bronze Medal
- J18 SM Gold Medal
- J20 SuperElit (North) Most Assists by Defenseman (19)
- J20 SuperElit (Overall) Most Assists by Defenseman (25)
- U18 WJC Bronze Medal
Andersson has been a mainstay on the Swedish national teams throughout his development. He represented Sweden at the Ivan Hlinka, 5 Nations, and U18 WJHC this past season. He generally played the role as a depth defender this season with Sweden and also saw some time with top prospect Adam Boqvist as the defensive piece of the pair.
This season was his second season where he spent the majority of the year with the J20 team and is expected to start the year there next season but could very well see some time with the main club in the SHL next year.
He did close out the year with the J18 team in the playoffs to help them win gold at that level
5v5 Pr INV%
So really interesting numbers at 5v5 play for Andersson. His GF% and GFREL% are noteworthy with the REL standing out; when Andersson was on the ice, good things were happening and when he wasn’t, it was a bit of a mess. High involvement percentage for a defenceman and 2.48 shots per game from the young Swede.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
The big takeaways from the above graphs were that almost every player that Andersson played with, was a drag on GF% numbers, with Albin Grewe and Adam Falk being the only ones to see more positive results for Andersson. The other noteworthy part in these graphs is that Andersson outproduced all other defencemen (and some forwards) while posting the best GF%.
Despite the fairly impressive scoring rates for Andersson, there is still a low success rate with 7.7% of statistically comparable players going onto successful NHL careers.
Andersson is a smooth skating defenceman who is skilled with the puck. He makes a good first pass, can skate with speed and precision and very smart with the puck. He allows forecheckers to commit and then will just go the other direction and carry the puck out. He plays the game the way that many teams are building their defence in the sense that he is extremely mobile with the puck, smart with his reads and movements and makes a crisp first pass.
The Jarna native has a cannon of the shot that he can unleash when given time and space but does have a good ability to just get the puck through to create chances for his forwards. He is effective on the powerplay due to the skills he possesses.
The scouting report below is a little harsh in the sense that he points at his gambling putting himself into trouble and needing to play with more grit. To some extent, I do agree that he does try to do too much at the J20 level but as we can see from the underlying data if he wasn’t making things happen, it likely wasn’t. Yes, ideally he would be a grittier player but his ability to roll off forecheckers while drawing them out of body position is a skill that makes up for it. Andersson doesn’t shy away from physical but doesn’t force it. He is a modern-style defender who is helping push the needle offensively.
Not too mention that Andersson is right-handed, which is another thing that makes him attractive for teams looking for defenders.
As we can see below, the rankings on Andersson are all over the place with the highest ranking being 34th and the lowest outside of the top 100. The consolidated ranking landed one spot of where we have him slotted and thus projecting him to be a 3rd round selection. If a Swedish scout for one team feels very strongly about him, we could see him go in the late second round. He will be a longer-term project but his skills leave a sense that Andersson has even more to give.
There is a lower success rate when using pGPS but the overall game of Andersson makes up for it – he plays the game smartly with great transition skills and offensive abilities. If he can get an opportunity with the main club in the SHL next year, we could see him turn some heads.
TSN Bob McKenzie
TSN Craig Button
The Hockey News
A long-term developmental defender who needs to add better habits and less gambling in his end and more grit. Strong on the puck and able to hold it in his end, with losing possession. Needs better awareness and presence in his end and bit more grit. Very skilled skater and puckhandler with flash and dash, and a high patience when under forechecking pressure. A long-term developmental right-hander who needs to continue to build his overall game.