Being a Sharks fan is simultaneously and paradoxically an exercise in futility, pessimism and hope. So, while it was a rather severe disappointment to many fans when new GM Mike Grier traded down from the 11th overall pick in exchange for the 27th, 34th and 45th overall picks, they retained a tinge of optimism when the Sharks used them to pick up Filip Bystedt, Cam Lund (#20 in our Top 25 Under 25) and Mattias Havelid (#13 in our Top 25 Under 25) with them.
One year on, with Bystedt looking like a blossoming fulcrum of the Sharks’ future, the gamble has never looked better.
Weight: 198 lbs
Date of Birth: February 4, 2004
Draft Year: 2022, 27th overall by the San Jose Sharks
2023-24 Team: Linköping HC
At the time of his pick, Bystedt was considered a slight reach at 27th overall, with most scouts projecting him to go in the second round. With 49 points in 40 games in Sweden’s U20 league and 2 points in 15 games with the professional club, the center was seen as more of a raw and somewhat risky project with extensive development needed to realize the considerable upside his frame and raw skills promised.
After a highly impressive post-draft season with Linköping HC of the Swedish Hockey League, however, he looks significantly closer to fulfilling his potential, and it is not an exaggeration to say that he now looks a more impressive prospect than anyone else drafted outside the top 10. This includes Conor Geekie, the prospect Arizona drafted with the Sharks’ original pick, making Grier’s selection and the decision to trade down look more and more savvy by the day.
Bystedt put up 20 points in 45 games and broadly looked like the best rookie in the SHL despite playing on an extremely mediocre Linköping team. He also had an excellent World Juniors — with 10 points in 7 games; he was arguably the best forward on a Swedish U20 team that included über-prospect Leo Carlsson. Bystedt’s line received plaudits for its increasingly direct, physical and creative play in a fourth place finish for its country.
The one drawback scouts continually noticed regarding Bystedt was his lack of consistency, but this is arguably somewhat expected for a 19-year-old forward in a professional league. With his excellent hustle, it is not something that should concern Sharks fans too much — unlike what was observed with some past Sharks prospects, any fears that the center would take “nights off” seem to be rather ill-founded.
Bystedt was loaned back to Linköping for the 2023-24 season, which will presumably be his last in the SHL. His rapid rate of improvement from his draft year to his post-draft season bodes well for his future prospects and his rate of growth, and if his development continues on this trajectory, the center should be on the Sharks’ main roster for the 2024-25 season.
What We Like
Bystedt’s relentless motor, excellent skating and massive frame make it extremely likely that he becomes an NHL player in some capacity, meaning the Sharks are highly unlikely to have drafted a bust, but his gifts are also far from limited with the puck. With an excellent shot, good hockey awareness, and silky hands, the center has the ability to be a genuine top-six player for the Sharks sooner rather than later.
Areas of Improvement
While his scoring is far from unimpressive and has taken a significant step up from his draft season, Bystedt is still going to want to add a bit more offense to his game if he wants to stick as a top-six player in the NHL. He has all the physical tools to succeed and is not short on puck skills, but the offensive side to his game will need continued growth if he is to ever fully realize his potential.
As the folks at Locked On Sharks note, Bystedt’s speed and smarts stand out in this clip, with the center cruising up the ice at a remarkably quick clip before using the defender as a screen and releasing a remarkably quick shot between his legs, allowing him to go five-hole on the unprepared goalie.