Yeah, Christoffer Ehn is still around. Every year there is buzz at the draft about what new glittering prizes the Red Wings have picked up that will return Detroit to the Providence of the hockey, and every year we do a Top 25 Under 25 Article about Christoffer Ehn. And then the next year comes, and most of last year’s glittering draft prizes have faded away, but lo and behold, like a mighty glacier, this Swedish Center has maintained himself as a fixture in our rankings.
Born: Skara, SWE
Height/Weight: 6’3” / 181 lbs
Drafted: 2014, 4th Round, 106th Overall, Detroit Red Wings
The next stat line for Christoffer Ehn should again feature the Griffins late in the season, as he’s planning to stay in Sweden for one more regular season. He made the jump across the pond last Spring to join the Griffins for the playoffs, and while he didn’t play during the Griffins’ championship run, it was a sign in light of the Wings missing the playoffs that Detroit was calling its prospects home to re-evaluate its future. Ehn was awarded a three year entry-level contract on April 20th and will begin a make-it-or-break-it kind of season for his development.
Christoffer Ehn is heralded as a superb defensive-minded center. If his stats seem unimpressive, it is because his deployment with Frolunda HC has been akin to Luke Glendening’s employment with the Wings; Ehn takes tough draws against the top competition in his own zone in Sweden’s highest league. Any scouting report you read on Ehn fawns over his defensive play. Jiri Fischer (via Ansar Khan) raved “On the faceoffs and in battles, once he gets stronger, he'll be fantastic." That’s some good praise, and suggests that the Wings believe he will eventually be on the roster in Detroit.
All of this is not to say Ehn is a dearth of offensive ability. He is said to be excellent on his skates, and his playmaking ability has been applauded, especially in the neutral zone. For a Red Wings team that struggles transitioning through the neutral zone, it is comforting to know that there is a player in the pipeline that is a defensive stalwart and can get the puck into the other end so that the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Dylan Larkin can take faceoffs in the offensive zone.
All the playmaking chops in the world ain’t going to put the puck in the net off your own stick. If Ehn had a silky set of hands on him, he wouldn’t have been taking defensive draws for Frolunda HC the past two years. His offensive game still needs time to develop, which is something he will hopefully have an opportunity to focus on in the AHL. With the praise of his playmaking abilities offset by his overall lack of assists, I have to wonder if the change in scenery and new set of linemates (say, Eric Tangradi and Dylan Sadowy) will do him a great deal of good.
It seems like Christoffer Ehn (and Axel Holmstrom, for that matter) has been developing over in Sweden for a lifetime at this point, but now its finally time to see what he’s got on North American Ice. I, for one, am excited for it. With the exodus of Tomas Nosek, Grand Rapids finds itself missing centers on their top line and in their middle-six. I expect Ehn to battle with Dominic Turgeon for second-line center duties.
Projecting him a bit further ahead, if his development continues on its current trajectory, he ought to be competing for a spot as a third or fourth line center as early as next season, although he is a player that can wait until 23 to make the NHL. If Luke Glendening and Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm and Riley Sheahan all go down with injuries this year, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he saw some games with the club later on next spring.
Ultimately, Christoffer Ehn projects to be a bottom-six center in the NHL, with a strong defensive game and a playmaker’s toolkit, and that is absolutely not a bad thing. If he pans out, he is exactly the kind of player the Wings will need in a few years to slot into the lineup and provide quality minutes on the third or fourth line.