The 2022 NHL Draft is once again stocked with Swedish prospects posed to make a difference. From Jonathan Lekkerimäki, who is projected to be a top-10 pick, to goaltender Hugo Hävelid, who is one of the top-ranked goaltenders in the draft, Sweden continues to pump out top prospects year after year.
Last season, 23 Swedish players were drafted, including six players taken in the first round. This year could see over 20 more players drafted into the league. Here are the top-10 Swedish prospects in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
10) Hugo Hävelid – Goaltender
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 2nd (EU Goaltenders)
Despite being a smaller goaltender at 5-foot-10, Hävelid impressed at the U-18’s going 4-1 with a .929 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.41 goals-against average (GAA). He spent most of the season with Linköping HC’s J20 team going 21-7-0 with five shutouts, a 1.82 GAA and a .920 SV%.
His play in the J20 playoffs is what should get teams excited. In eight games, he went 6-2 with two shutouts, a 1.97 GAA and a .925 SV%. He is a project goaltender with potential and if he gets the time to develop properly, could make the NHL one day just like Juuse Saros.
9) Fabian Wagner – Right Wing
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 27th (EU Skaters)
Fabian Wagner played his season with Linköping HC’s U-20 team registering 38 points in 43 games. He also got the opportunity to play eight games in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) but did not register a point. Known more as a playmaker, he does possess a good shot and can beat defenders on the rush with his explosive speed.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Wagner is a well-rounded player that would have been projected higher if he could play the center position. He has the offensive and defensive skill set teams are looking for, just on the wing rather than down the middle. Regardless, he has the potential to be a middle-six winger in the NHL if he continues to develop as projected.
8) Alexander Suzdalev – Left Wing
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 26th (EU Skaters)
Although Alexander Suzdalev was born in Russia, he plays for the Swedish National Team and therefore qualifies for this list. The winger played last season for HV71 in the J20 league racking up 51 points in 45 games. He did play for the HV71 men’s team but unlike others on this list, they were part of the HockeyAllsvenskan league rather than the SHL. In the HockeyAllsvenskan, he played five games but did not register a point.
Suzdalev is a speedy winger that is known for his playmaking ability. He has high-end offensive skill and is difficult to knock off the puck at 6-foot-2, 172 pounds. While he is projected to be a third-round pick, he does show some traits and characteristics that should have teams interested.
7) Elias Salomonsson – Right Defense
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 12th (EU Skaters)
While the draft position of Elias Salomonsson may be debated, one thing that isn’t is he can play. The 6-foot-1 defenceman played for Skellefteå AIK’s J20 team and finished with 22 points in 35 games. He also saw action in 10 SHL games but did not record any points.
Salomonsson is a stable two-way defenceman with a strong ability to get the puck out of the zone. Whether it is by passing or carrying it himself, he can transition the play at a high level. He has all the tools needed to be an everyday NHLer.
6) Mattias Hävelid – Right Defense
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 19th (EU Skaters)
Mattias Hävelid is a solid defenceman who can make a difference on the power play if given the opportunity. The Linköping HC defender registered 19 points in 29 games at the J20 level while seeing action in 23 SHL matches. He was also an associate captain of Team Sweden at the U-18’s where he registered 12 points in six games on way to a gold medal.
The J20 playoffs is where Hävelid really shined. In eight games, he registered 10 points and was named J20 Nationell Playoffs MVP. He fits the mould of the new-age defencemen in that he can carry the puck up with ease and is able to make difficult passes to open teammates.
5) Filip Bystedt – Center
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 17th (EU Skaters)
For teams that need a two-way center with high offensive skill, Filip Bystedt may be exactly what they are looking for. This season with Linköping HC’s J20 team, he registered 49 points in 40 games, including 10 points and nine assists in eight playoff games. At the U-18’s, he was dynamic in the faceoff dot, winning 69 of 124 draws.
At 6-foot-4, 187 pounds, he has the size needed to be a force at center in the NHL. He knows how to win draws, has good defensive awareness and can be a playmaker in the offensive zone. If he is drafted into the right environment, he could be the steal of the draft.
4) Noah Östlund – Center
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 18th (EU Skaters)
Noah Östlund is one of the top playmakers in this year’s draft. He registered 33 assists and 42 points in 32 games for the Djurgårdens IF J-20 team and was named one of the top three players on Team Sweden at this year’s U-18. He also saw 11 games at the SHL level but did not register a point.
Fans should be excited for Östlund as he is a confident player that shines in big games. In the U-18’s gold-medal game, he scored twice while winning 19 of 34 faceoffs. Overall, he won 84 of 147 in the tournament, which was the most wins by any player at the U-18s. Expect him to go later in the first round.
3) Calle Odelius – Left Defense
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 16th (EU Skaters)
Calle Odelius is a reliable, two-way defenceman that can make a clean outlet pass out of the zone while also being able to jump into the rush with his strong skating ability. This season with Djurgårdens IF, he posted 30 points in 43 games at the J20 Nationell while also getting an opportunity to play seven games at the SHL level. Expect him to be the first Swedish defender drafted this year.
One part of Odelius’s game that sticks out is his ability to get pucks on the net. During the U-18s, he generated nine shots in six games and only went shotless in one game. This was a common theme as he had an eight-game shot streak during the J20 season and posted an eight-shot game back in November. He understands how to get the puck on the net, which is a valuable skill in the NHL.
2) Liam Öhgren – Left Wing
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 8th (EU Skaters)
Liam Öhgren is a leader on the ice. This past season, he captained the Swedish team at the U-18’s helping guide them to a gold medal. As for his play, he is an offensively gifted winger with a killer shot and great playmaking ability. In the J20 Nationell League, he scored 33 goals in 30 games while registering 58 points for Djurgårdens IF. For his efforts, he was named J20 Nationell Best Forward, an award previously won by Lucas Raymond and Elias Lindholm.
One aspect of Öhgren’s game that has really impressed scouts is his ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone. Instead of dumping the puck in, he has the confidence and strength to carry it in, which allows his team to maintain possession in the offensive zone. He will need to adjust to North American ice but he should be a top-six player for years in the NHL.
1) Jonathan Lekkerimäki – Right Wing
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 6th (EU Skaters)
Lekkerimäki is one of the most prolific scorers in this draft. The 17-year-old produced at both the U-20 and pro level this past season competing for Djurgårdens IF in the J20 Nationell and SHL. In the J20 league, he scored 20 goals in 26 games and while in the SHL, he buried seven goals in 26 games. He is a defender’s worst nightmare as he can use his speed and acceleration to beat them along the wing and a goalie’s worst nightmare due to his lethal shot.
While Lekkerimäki is praised for his shot, one aspect of his game that is constantly praised is his ability to slow down the game. He is patient with the puck, which lets him pick corners with ease while also finding open teammates with slick passes that set up scoring chances. Whoever selects him is getting a dynamic game-changer for years to come.
Swedish Players Expected to Go Early and Often
From the first round to the seventh, there are plenty of Swedish players expected to be drafted in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Other prospects to keep an eye on that didn’t make the list include defenceman Elias Pettersson, defenceman Ludvig Jansson and winger Sandis Vilmanis. The draft is set for July 7 and 8, 2022, from Montreal.
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Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.