2019-20 Team: Linkoping HC J20 / SuperElit
Date of Birth: Apr 03, 2002
Place of Birth: Uppsala, Sweden
Ht: 6-foot-0 Wt: 168 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 39th (among EU Skaters)
- Josh Bell’s Final Rankings: 71st
- Larry Fisher’s Top 500 Final Rankings: 72nd
- Andrew Forbes’ Top 217 for March: 92nd
Sometimes, a prospect’s entire pre-draft career can be defined by a single tournament. A great showing against some of the top prospects in the world can propel you up the boards, where a bad few games can knock you off the draft list.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
For Swedish forward Daniel Ljungman, the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup was a true coming-out party. Throughout the tournament, he posted five goals while receiving playing time on both special teams units while taking on the role of Sweden’s shootout specialist.
With this impressive play, Ljungman jumped from a fourth-round draft projection to being in the top 50 to 100 prospects for most. Had he continued this hot-streak, he could have easily made his way into the first round of the 2020 Draft.
Unfortunately, Ljungman was pedestrian while playing with Linkoping HC J20, posting 10 goals and 23 points in 40 games. While these totals are far from bad, they didn’t pop like his Hlinka scoring.
So, this leaves Ljungman in an interesting position. He has shown flashes of top-end talent, but he hasn’t put that together for an entire season. The question is, how will this inconsistency affect his draft stock?
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Daniel Ljungman – NHL Draft Projection
Depending on who you ask, Ljungman could fall anywhere from the late-second round to the early fourth-round. If he were bigger or a more consistent scorer I would expect him to go no later than the early third, but he lacks that total body of work that other prospects have.
Given all of this, I would expect Ljungman to get selected in the mid to late third-round. In this position, he could be a great value pick with a little bit of risk.
Ljungman looked like a first-rounder at the Hlinka — emerging as one of that tournament’s breakout stars — but lost his lustre over the course of the season, only scoring 10 goals in 40 games. His lack of success in the Swedish junior league had many questioning whether that Hlinka performance was a fluke…Larry Fisher – THW
He (Ljungman) uses his agility and powerful stride to lead the rush and force defenders out of position, and has great hands to deke out defenders and create scoring chances.Lauren Kelly – Rawcharge.com
The biggest thing that stands out about Ljungman is his wrist shot, which he uses often. He also has great hands and deceptive speed.Matthew Zator – THW
- NHL-caliber toolkit
- Fantastic shot
- All-around impressive hockey IQ
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Lackluster performance in the Swedish junior league after breakout performance in the Hlinka Cup.
- Relatively small frame
- Not a physical player, with improvement needed in the ‘dirty’ areas of the ice
By all accounts, Ljungman has the potential to be a bottom-six center in the NHL. He has the toolkit and shot of a starter, and if given the time to develop, he should easily break into the league in a few years.
However, expecting more than a bottom-six starter may be too much. Ljungman has great potential, but he is lacking that size and physicality of a top-end pivot. These factors may limit just how far he can move up a team’s depth charts.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 3/5
Whenever you draft a player based on one breakout performance in an international tournament, there is a lot of risk involved. That performance may not be indicative of a player’s true potential, with their ceiling being potentially much higher or lower than expected.
Despite this, Ljungman appears to be a solid all-around prospect. He has an NHL skillset with the hockey IQ that could make him a productive bottom-six scorer that can take on meaningful special teams playing time.
That being said, if he is selected in the second-round, expectations may be out of reality for what his ceiling could be. If he returns to his Hlinka Cup form, then he will be the steal of the draft at any position, but if he never finds that consistency again, he may need to be selected in round three or later to set expectations in line with reality.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.