A few months ago, Jonatan Berggren was a name only uttered in the darkest corners of NHL draft Twitter. He actually fell to 30 among Central Scouting’s European-league skaters from 24 during the midterm rankings. But recently he’s climbed into the hearts and minds of the online scouting community. The 5-foot-11 Swedish forward has all but cemented his status first-round material by becoming the 24th-ranked skater by The Athletic’s Corey Pronman and 20th by his colleague Scott Wheeler. Hockeyprospect.com gives him the 27th-overall grade among skaters. Future Considerations is the only ranking service listed by Elite Prospects that ranks Berggren lower than 30.
Interestingly enough, it is Berggren’s slight slip down the Central Scouting ranks, more than anything else, that might indicate his ultimate draft position. According to Namita Nandakumar’s NHL draft research, a player ranked 30 among European skaters only has about a 50 percent chance of being drafted at all, if historical drafts are any predictors of the future. All this to say that, despite the recent uptick in interest in the Swedish forward, it’s almost a certainty he’ll be available at 21 when the Sharks come to the podium.
Here you’ll find Berggren’s point totals from his most recent season. You can see he spent time in a variety of Swedish leagues and on Swedish national junior teams.
Berggren scored 1.5 points per game during his 38-game SuperElite campaign, a league-leading figure. That figure is similar to recent former first rounders William Nylander and Lias Andersson’s scoring rates (1.59 for both forwards). Had Berggren added one more point during this past season, he would have matched 2017 second-round selection Jesper Boqvist’s points-per-game rate. It must be said, however, that Nylander, Andersson, and Boqvist all have late birthdates, so these skaters enjoyed similar scoring rates at somewhat different ages.
Jeremy Davis from Canucks Army has done some leg work for us and put Berggren through his prospect algorithm and adjusted scoring machine. After taking into account Berggren’s age, league, the era in which he’s playing and the game strength during which he scored his points (5v5, power play, etc), we must actually adjust Berggren’s scoring rate down to just 1.06 points per game. Despite the dip in production to account for Berggren’s context, his adjusted scoring rate would have placed him 11th among skaters (were he a CHL, NCAA or USHL skater) in 2016 and 26th among 2017 skaters.
Berggren recorded a primary point on 31 pecent of his team’s 5v5 points this season, an impressive figure. However, he took just a touch more than two shots per game and shot 22 percent, so his scoring-related numbers are likely inflated by some fortunate bounces here and there. Still, Davis’ player cohort success model believes Berggren has a high ceiling and a 100 percent likelihood of making the NHL, an enticing proposition. Also working in Berggren’s favor was the fact his organization’s professional team called him up for 10 games this past season (he failed to notch a single point during his regular-season time in the SHL but added one assist in two playoff games).
The Swedish winger’s scoring provides reason for excitement, but the way in which he scored (perhaps through many power play points) gives reason for pause. Below, we’ll look at what scouts have to say about his strengths and weaknesses to see what hours of watching tape can suss out for us.
It sounds as though Berggren is a good, quick skater with exciting agility and skillful hands.
From Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst:
Berggren is “a two-way winger with a nonstop motor, Berggren’s speed and anticipation causes havoc for opposing defenders, but it’s the plays he makes after forcing turnovers that separate him from most players his age. His active stick and quick hands turn harmless dump-ins into quality chances, and his speed allows him to blow past defenders at the blue line.”
From Ben Kerr of The Last Word on Hockey:
“Berggren is an outstanding skater. He is very fast, and reaches top speed in just a few strides ... Despite his size, he is effective in board battles and in front of the net ... His ability to read the play aids Berggren in creating turnovers and quickly transitioning to offense.”
From Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects:
Berggren “owns tremendous puck-skills, high-end vision and isn’t afraid to unleash a heavy shot ... He was a buzz-saw player and drew attention during all situations.” Robinson calls him a “burgeoning top-six forward.”
Will Scouch of Scouching:
Berggren’s “skill, tenacity, speed and shooting instincts are second to none ... Berggren does have a ton of upside. The brain, speed, and skill are there, and he’s a potential steal.”
Areas of Improvement
While it’s difficult to improve upon stature, Berggren’s 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11 (depending on who’s listing him), 180 pound frame make him fairly slight for the NHL. Ben Kerr of the Last Word on Hockey writes that “he can be overpowered by bigger forwards when working to contain the cycle.” Will Scouch believes that, although size is often an overrated attribute, “he would be a relatively small centre in the NHL, which doesn’t disqualify him, but it stacks odds against him.”
It seems he could stand to practice his shooting technique, as the Kerr’s scouting report continues by describing how, “Berggren needs to work on his shot. From further out, his wrist shot lacks power and needs a quicker release.”
There is also the question of whether or not he’ll play winger or center at the next level(s), which could impact where a team is willing to take him.
In most of these highlights, you can see Berggren’s quick hands and shifty footwork at play. He consistently finds space between defenders and dodges in and out of traffic almost without thinking about it. His speed and vision are apparent and, even if his shot doesn’t quite reek of elite pedigree, you can tell he’s learned all about placement.