When you see a specific team or system dominate the NHL draft board with their top prospects, you know they’re doing a terrific job at developing their top talent for the next stage of their career.
This exactly goes for the system of Djurgårdens IF. They have four players coming through the pipeline and all of which are primed to be taken within the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Liam Öhgren, Noah Östlund and Calle Odelius all provide their own skillset and strengths that will make any team jump up and select them.
Fans should be keeping their eye on all four of them as they look to dominate the draft board.
While the United States National Development Team boasts some great depth in this year’s draft, the three headed offensive monster from Djurgårdens IF can prove to be extremely dangerous as well. Lekkerimäki, Öhgren and Östlund have been extremely impactful in the Nationell league, as they were lethal and dangerous from the start of their draft season.
Related: 2022 THW Draft Guide
Here is a breakdown of the forwards’ statistics from Pick224, including an explanation of each category.
P1/GP- primary points per game
EV P1/GP- even-strength primary points
Goals/P1- percentage of primary points that were goals
EV GF%- percentage of goals at even-strength when that player was on the ice
P1/e60- primary points per estimated 60 minutes
|Player||P1/GP||EV P1/GP||Goals/P1||EV GF%||P1/e60|
Each player played a specific role for Djurgårdens IF this season and even at the World U18 Championship. The first standout is the play of Öhgren as he was impressive in every single offensive category. He was a driving force at even strength and had strong primary point production. He was extremely dominant as he was unstoppable with just under two points per game (58 points in 30 games) as an 18-year-old.
Öhgren is a multi-tool forward with an insanely strong work ethic, IQ and high-end energy. When he’s on the ice, you’re instantly drawn to him. He’s always active on the forecheck, displaying great speed, patience and awareness in the offensive zone. He’s confident and shows no panic in his game as he’s able to dictate the pace and make plays at a quick rate. He’s an effective playmaker, but it’s his shot and goal scoring abilities that was on display in his draft year as he scored 33. Like this goal here, where he spotted the loose puck, used his strong edgework to score on the wrap around.
The offensive game is evident and although he didn’t fare well in the SHL, he’s a player that will adjust to the tougher competition given his drive and compete level. Even when he doesn’t have the puck, his defensive game and positioning is just as strong, providing a reliable two-way presence. His game is becoming very reminiscent to that of Gabriel Landeskog.
Speaking of offensively driven and talented players, the highest ranked of the group is Lekkerimäki as he’s currently ranked sixth among European skaters. He is probably the best pure goal scorer in this class as he’s very much a threat every time the puck is on his stick. He has a wicked release and accurate shot and when he’s wide open, chances are the puck is going in the back of the net.
“It’s hard to not say his shot,” Östlund said of Lekkerimäki. “He’s a pure sniper. He rips the puck pretty good.”
Lekkerimäki reads the play exceptionally well in order to free himself up. He always hovers around the open ice and even when players think they have him covered, he slips by and pounces on an opportunity. He’s extremely aggressive in one-on-one situations and his speed allows him to get by defenders with ease and attack the net. He has soft hands in tight spaces and when there isn’t a path for him to take, he bides his time and then goes on the attack.
After solid production in the Nationell with 20 goals and 35 points in 26 games, he got called up to the SHL and he didn’t look out of place at all as he continued his goal scoring dominance with seven goals in 26 games. Considering the minutes weren’t great, he made the most of his opportunity.
Rounding out the forwards is Östlund. Just as dynamic as Lekkerimäki and Öhgren, Östlund pushes the pace of the game very quickly. He’s a shifty and crafty playmaker with great control and did a great job as the set-up man when he played with them. He’s quick with his edges and has great foot speed to move the puck quickly in transition and on the cycle in the offensive zone. When asked at the combine who was the best out of the four of them, Odelius was quick with his response.
“I would say Noah. He’s really smart out there,” he said.
He might be overlooked compared to the other two players, but Östlund is just as dangerous. Even though he’s flying under the radar, he can be a game breaking player with his potential. If you lose sight of him, he can you hurt offensively. While he’s a great playmaker, when he has a chance to shoot, he won’t hesitate as he has a quick wrist shot.
Odelius an Exciting Defender
Since I started watching him at the start of the season at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Odelius has been nothing short but impressive with his mobility and offensive awareness. He finished the season with 30 points in 43 games and had a strong P1/GP with 0.48 and an EV GF% of 51.85.
Odelius is a smooth skating, two-way defender. He’s strong in transition with his connection on a breakout pass or when he’s able to carry and lead a rush attack. He plays with such calm and poise and even when he’s dealt with high pressure situations, he doesn’t panic and uses his smarts and skating to evade it.
When I asked Östlund on what stands out about Odelius, he said, “I would say his skating. He’s very good on his edges and he’s a quick skater.”
Odelius has a decent shot to go with his passing abilities, being able to get it on net for a scoring or rebound opportunity. He’s just as effective defensively as he’s great at defending against the rush, maintains good gap control and is able to get into the lanes to break plays up. He’s everything that you would want in a modern-day defender as he should have teams lineup for his play and potential.
Success at World U18 and the Draft
All four players represented and led Sweden at the U18 World Championship– with Öhgren as captain– to a gold medal defeating the United States 6-4 in a thrilling gold medal game. The trio of forwards combined for five of the six goals scored and nine points for Sweden in that game with Odelius chipping in with an assist.
Overall, Lekkerimäki led the tournament in scoring with 15 points, while Östlund finished fifth with 10, scoring twice in the gold medal game. Öhgren wasn’t that far behind as he finished with nine points. Needless to say, the top players for Sweden were their top players, especially when it mattered the most. This was a moment that Odelius and Östlund wouldn’t forget.
“It was really special to go through that stuff with them,” Odelius said. “I think we had a pretty tough start to the tournament. We lost against Latvia, but after that, we [became] strong as a group and played really good the rest of the tournament.”
Östlund echoed the sentiment as well.
“It was a very cool experience,” Östlund said. “It was a special moment to win gold with my best friends.”
With a gold medal added to their resumes, now the shift focuses to the NHL Draft as all four members are looking to be drafted in the first round. Odelius is already thinking about how great this experience would be. “It would be really cool to have four Djurgårdens guys in the first round,” he said.
“[It’s] my best friends, so to go through this experience with them, it’s like living a dream.”
Östlund has played with Lekkerimäki and Odelius for some time and to share this moment at the NHL draft with them and Öhgren is going to be a very special moment.
“It would be a lot of fun I think,” Östlund said. “We’re good friends outside of hockey. I grew up playing hockey with Lekkerimäki and Odelius since we were 12 years old. It will be a very fun moment.”
No matter what happens all four products of the Djurgårdens IF system are poised to make a name for themselves not just at the draft, but at the NHL level. Seeing them in the top league one day is definitely going to be a treat.
Statistics from Pick224.
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Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.