2020-21 Team: HV71 / HockeyAllsvenskan
Date of Birth: July 08, 2003
Place of Birth: Jonkoping, SWE
Ht: 5-foot-9 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 60th (EU Skaters)
- FC Hockey: 145th
- Recruit Scouting: 97th
- Smaht Scouting: 127th
- DobberProspects: 90th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 109th
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): 91st
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 104th
Over the years, smaller players have managed to carve out their own niche in the NHL. From superstar forwards to starting goaltenders to top-four defensemen, players under 6-foot tall have consistently found their way into line-ups. Despite this change, however, size still talks on draft day. Larger players tend to be coveted over their smaller counterparts, even if their toolkits are similar.
This matters in the discussion of Swedish defensive prospect Victor Sjoholm, because when you look at what he can bring to the ice, the major knock against him is his 5-foot-9 frame. As a defenseman, he plays an incredibly smart game, limiting opponents’ scoring chances by cutting off angles and shooting lanes while being able to make those crisp passes to get the puck out of the zone. He is also willing to play the body by throwing down hits that use his size effectively.
As a defensive-first defenseman, his offensive toolkit is lacking right now. In 35 games played at various levels of the Swedish professional leagues, he only registered 2 goals and 10 points, while chipping in 1 goal at the 2021 WJC-18. If he can improve his skating and his shot, however, it’s very possible that Sjoholm could become a complete defenseman, with shut-down defensive capabilities and mid-range offensive upside.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Victor Sjoholm – NHL Draft Projection
When you have an undersized player like Sjoholm, they tend to be drafted below their potential upside, especially in times of uncertainty. If he were bigger, say 6-foot-1, he would easily be a mid-third round pick with his toolkit.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Given his size, however, I would expect Sjoholm to fall to the fourth-round, likely being selected somewhere between pick 100-110. While he could slip as far as the fifth, I imagine he would be quickly taken off the board if he made it that far.
While Victor Sjoholm may be undersized at five-foot-eight, 163 pounds, he makes up for it in his play. From his balance to his compete, Sjoholm is a player who you want to cheer for and you can’t take your eyes off of.Josh Bell – nhlentrydraft.com
A hard-working, small defenceman, Sjöholm skates well, boasts good touch, and brings it every shift.Jimmy Hamrin – eprinkside.com
- Plays a smart defensive game
- Strong Passer
- Willing to lay down hits along the boards
- Never stops competing while he is on the ice
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
While he may not be a large player, Sjoholm still has the mindset to play big on the ice, laying down hits and using his body to influence the play. If he can further develop his skating, that will allow him to move better on his own blue line, and potentially open up more offensive options despite his size.
It is becoming more and more common in the NHL for undersized players to not only be drafted but make their way into starting roles with their teams. If Sjoholm can develop an offensive touch to his already strong defensive instincts, he could be a great fit as a bottom-six defenseman with top-four potential who can take on a few minutes of penalty kill time each night.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5
Since smaller players tend to fall down the board on draft day, Sjoholm’s risk-reward is going to be highly influenced by where he is selected. If he is selected in the mid to late third-round, that may be a touch early given his size.
If he falls to the early fifth-round, then he would be an incredible value pick that teams may look back on and kick themselves about missing in a few years.
Victor Sjoholm Statistics
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.