2019-20 Team: HV71 J20
Date of Birth: March 26, 2002
Place of Birth: Gnosjö, Sweden
Ht: 5-foot-9 Wt: 154 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 31st (Among EU skaters)
- Future Considerations: 88th
- The Hockey Writers (Bell): 81st
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 114th
- The Hockey Writers (Fisher): 46th
- The Draft Analyst: 100th
After missing quite a bit of time over the past two seasons, there are some concerns about how Anton Johannesson’s development has been effected. But then this season, in the limited action he saw, there was definitely potential in his play.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Playing in the HV71 organization for the past three seasons, the Swedish defender has shown improvements in his production, highlighted by the 2019-20 campaign with eight goals, 16 assists and 24 points in 20 games with the J20 club. He also played five games with the J18 team, putting up six points (three goals, three assists) in five games.
He’s an offensive defenseman, with standout skating. His movement is smooth, gliding across the ice with ease. He’s agile and light on his feet, allowing him to change direction in a split second. His lack of leg strength shows when he’s reaching top speed, but once he’s there he can fly down the ice. Those slower first few steps can get him into trouble when trying to catch an opposing forward, but when he’s rolling he’s hard to catch.
Johannesson’s offensive awareness is another big strength in his game. He’s patient, he’s an excellent passer, and he uses space in the attacking zone well. He can be very creative at making room for himself and his teammates, with tricky passing and slick movement. He shoots often with a hard, dangerous wrist shot. He’s smart with the puck, usually make great decisions that help his team.
At 5-foot-9, 154 pounds, he’s not a physical presence on the ice. With the puck, he can be pushed off fairly regularly and without it, he lacks the strength to push the opposition off the puck. This lack of strength has also been a factor in those multiple injuries over the last couple of years. His skating can help to make up for his size in a minimal way, but he’ll need to bulk up a bit before he takes the next step.
Defensively and without the puck, some holes in Johannesson’s game can show. He can struggle physically in board battles, with that strength showing up again, but also uses some creative stick play to get the puck loose. There are times where he can get caught out of position, which should improve as he develops. His awareness is fairly good here though, getting his stick in passing lanes, but he plays a little bit more rushed in his own end when under pressure.
There’s no denying Johannesson’s potential. There’s a lot to like about his game. The holes stem from his size and lack of strength, and the weight is the most concerning. His speed and intelligence can make up for the height, but he’ll need to put on some weight if he is to compete for an NHL spot. Johannesson can be considered a high-risk, high-reward player.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Anton Johannesson – NHL Draft Projection
Johannesson is a tough player to peg down. Based on his high-end potential, he could be a second round pick. But team’s might worry about his durability and strength which could see him slip to the third or fourth round.
“Johannesson is rising on my personal rankings and is the most skilled Swedish defenseman in this year’s draft. For the draft he could sneak his way into the bottom of the first round or early second round. He has elite puck skills and is very smart with the puck. He skates with ease and can move around coast-to-coast with the puck. He is also a strong first pass defenseman and plays with confidence in tight situations. He processes the game well and has strong awareness.” – Jimmy Hamrin, McKeen’s Hockey
“Johannesson wasn’t among the top 124 in my preseason rankings or October — omitted following an injury-plagued previous season — but has been making up for lost time with a productive draft year. Johannesson is a smaller puck-mover and offensive-minded defender who may have been hyped similar to Erik Brannstrom had he been healthy all along. Instead, Emil Andrae (No. 25 for me) has been getting that push as a first-round prospect, but Johannesson’s ceiling is just as high — if not higher than Andrae.” – Larry Fisher, The Hockey Writers
“When he has played, he’s shown he has a tremendous amount of upside. He is a very smart offensive defenseman. He makes simple plays very effectively and makes creative plays look simple. He also has a very good wrist shot. Because they play on the same team and they’re both 5-foot-9, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Johannesson and Andrae. But Andrae’s skating and defensive play are much better at this point, so that is why there is a pretty big gap between them. But at the same time, it’s difficult to say how much Johannesson can improve over the next couple of years if he can just stay healthy.” – Jokke Nevalainen, DobberProspects
- Offensive awareness
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Defensive Game
We’ll focus on ceiling here. Johannesson could be a top-four guy if he can bulk up and get stronger. His skill and hockey sense is there. He could be running a power-play unit, and be a solid producer at the NHL level. An ideal target comparable (again, this would be ceiling) would be someone like Jared Spurgeon (5-foot-9, 168 pounds). Possibly more realistically, he might struggle to make that jump.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence – 5/10
In the 2017-18 season, before his injuries really cost him time, Johannesson led the TV-Pucken in goals by a defender (six), and let the U16 Elit in assists (22) and points (32) by a defender. In 2018, he helped Sweden to a bronze medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
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Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.