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He’s not a Defenseman, But Jonatan Berggren’s Upside was Hard for the Red Wings to Pass on

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2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Red Wings had one hell of a haul in the 2018 NHL Draft in Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno alone, but there’s one name that sticks out to me — a dynamic, exciting talent that is Jonatan Berggren. No, it’s not the biggest name taken in the 2nd round, and say what you want about passing on certain defensemen, but the smallish winger brings a toolbox of offensive skill to the table. Not only that, his journey to becoming an 2nd round pick is an inspiring one.

I get the general consensus from the fanbase that they’re unhappy with the pick. Most fans wanted to see the Red Wings draft all defense after taking a winger and center in the first round, but Berggren as a player is being highly undervalued as some write off the pick.

Berggren was brought up in Uppsala, a city near Stockholm. Berggren’s father made Jonatan take up hockey. “Dad made me start playing ice hockey. He played himself in Västerås and during my first years he showed everything to me with hockey eyes,” he tells Tomas Ros of the Sport Bladet. It’s something many young hockey players experience, taking up the sport that they grow up watching their old man play.

For the young Swedish winger, his journey to the NHL, which began with his father, will now continue his legacy.

Jonatan lost his father to cancer at 13 years old. At 15, he made the big step to move to Skellefteå to take the next step in his career as a hockey player. It was there he would develop into a player who would lead the SuperElite league in scoring. Not only that, he scored 23 points (11-12—23) in 20 games at the U18 WJC. Accomplishments that would bring him and his family to Dallas, Texas — that’s where he would learn that he’ll begin his journey to the NHL with his childhood favorite team.

Berggren is praised for his high IQ and high-end skating. Along with that, he has quick hands that have produced many plays that keep you on the edge of your seat. What will task the young winger will be the move to the SHL. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a tremendous talent, but he has a couple of years before he moves to North America. He will spend time with Skellefteå, with the guidance of Red Wings training staff.

“He is fast and scores and is intensive. I think he can get the same development as Viktor Arvidsson had in Nashville,” Red Wings super-scout Hakan Andersson tells Ros.

Fact is, Berggren has high upside as a scoring winger. No, he’s not a big kid, but where he lacks in size, he makes up with in his pure offensive instinct. “Skating is top notch and he has the ability to put his team on his back and rise to the occasion of playing under pressure. Can find holes with his passes or shots and is hard to pick up defensively, a true pain to defend,” says Justin Froese of Future Considerations, who saw the youngster play internationally.

This compilation encapsulates Berggren’s ability as a scorer and playmaker.

“He’s capable of pulling the puck through tight areas of the ice and will lower his shoulder to use power moves to take pucks to the net. He keeps popping up in good spots on the ice to make an impact and can make plays on the rush or in the zone,” Froese continues in his analysis of Berggren.

For Red Wings fans, they should feel better about this pick. Hakan Andersson has historically found great talent in the Swedish leagues. We know that he’s seen a lot of Berggren, and if there is one person in the organization many can hang up their hopes on, it’s Andersson.

All-in-all, the Red Wings have a real sleeper pick in Jonatan Berggren. No, he’s not a defenseman, but I like the pick. Any time a player can be compared by a known super-scout along the lines of a guy scored over 60 goals in two seasons, he has my pick.