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The IIHF Under-18 World Championships is often the last opportunity for draft-eligible players to show their stuff and impress NHL scouts. One player who took full advantage of that opportunity, and cemented his status as a riser in the 2018 NHL draft is Jonatan Berggren. The Swedish centre put up five goals and five assists for 10 points in seven tournament games. The performance helped the Swedes to the bronze medal.
The international success came on the heels of two other impressive international showings for Berggren. At the 2017 Ivan Hlinka tournament, he put up five points in five games and brought home a gold medal. At the 2016-17 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, Berggren scored three points in six games, helping Sweden to a gold medal.
Domestically, Berggren made his SHL debut this year. While he did not record a point in 10 regular season games with Skelleftea, he picked up his first SHL assist in the playoffs. He appeared in just two playoff games as the strong Skelleftea side went all the way to the SHL final. Berggren spent most of his team in the J20 league, where he was dominant. He scored 18 goals and 39 assists for 57 points in 38 games. He also added five points in three playoff games.
Jonatan Berggren Scouting Report
Centre/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born July 16th, 2000 — Uppsala, Sweden
Height 5’10” — Weight 181 lbs [178 cm/82 kg]
Berggren is an outstanding skater. He is very fast, and reaches top speed in just a few strides. This can create breakaways and other odd man rushes. He is dangerous taking a defender wide on the rush. He also gets in quickly on the forecheck. Berggren has a low centre of gravity, and is difficult to move off the puck as a result. Despite his size, he is effective in board battles and in front of the net. His agility and edgework are also strong. Berggren is able to beat defenders with quick movements and cuts.
Berggren may be small, but he plays a heavy game. He is a torpedo on the forecheck, getting in quickly on opposing defenders and forcing them to turn the puck over. He also battles hard on the boards and gets to the front of the net and causes havoc. Berggren is not afraid to take a hit to make a play, or to take abuse in front of the net. He scores most of his goals in tight to the net. He has the soft hands to finish on breakaways that he generates with his speed. Berggren also has the hand-eye coordination and quickness to pounce on rebounds. However, Berggren needs to work on his shot. From further out, his wrist shot lacks power and needs a quicker release.
Berggren is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. When he creates turnovers on the forecheck, he is quick to move the puck to an open linemate. He is also good at finding open players on the rush. Berggren has good vision. He anticipates the play and makes smart passes with the puck.
Berggren’s speed and hockey IQ are assets in the defensive zone. He is committed to playing in his own end and supporting the defence with back pressure. He also works to cut down passing lanes with his quickness and strong positioning. His ability to read the play aids Berggren in creating turnovers and quickly transitioning to offense. However, Berggren’s size starts to become an issue in the defensive end. He can be overpowered by bigger forwards when working to contain the cycle.
Projection and Comparison
Berggren could become a top-six forward at the NHL level, though he needs some time to continue to develop. Adding muscle to play his style of physical game at the next level will be key. He also could stand to work on his shot. While he has played both centre and right wing this season, he seems better suited to the wing. In terms of playing style, Berggren’s game is similar to Paul Byron with a bit more playmakng ability. This is just a style comparison though, and not a projection of talent.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Berggren that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
PLYMOUTH, MI – FEBRUARY 15: Jonatan Berggren #17 of the Sweden Nationals passes the puck against the Finland Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 15, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. Finland defeated Sweden 5-3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)