The Detroit Red Wings were widely regarded as one of the “winners” of the 2018 NHL Draft, largely due to their fortuitous acquisitions of Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno in the first-round. The addition of Jonatan Berggren in the early second-round certainly helped the Wings overall grade. While many fans would’ve preferred the team to select a much-needed defenseman at pick #33, both Berggren’s skill and potential offensive-upside were factors Detroit couldn’t pass on.
Born: July 16, 2000
Birthplace: Uppsala, SWE
Drafted: 2018, 2nd Round, 33rd overall
Current Team: Skellefteå AIK , SHL
2017-2018 statline: 38 GP, 18 goals, 39 assists (+24)
Berggren is the latest prospect in Hockeytown to be brought in by Detroit’s legendary European scout, Hakan Andersson - the guy who helped bring Tomas Holmstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and several other notable names to the Motor City. While Berggren certainly has a very long way to go to prove himself worthy of being mentioned alongside such prolific players, he possess the skills and IQ to make a name for himself.
And it’s a nice little added bonus that his favorite NHL team growing up was, yup, you guessed it, the Red Wings:
“Detroit was my favorite team growing up,” said Berggren, who turned 18 on July 16. “I liked Henrik Zetterberg very much.”
“They had all the Swedes on the roster, and they still do,” he said during Red Wings development camp last month. “I haven’t met them yet, but I’m excited.”
It may not be surprising that a young hockey player from Sweden would be a fan of the Wings, but what is surprising is how Berggren is able to generate so much offense in spite of his non-threatening physical-stature. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 181 pounds, he’s well aware of how he measures up to his competitors out on the ice:
“I’m not going to be the biggest or strongest guy on the ice,” he said, “so I have to use my speed.
And Berggren has speed, in spades. Just check out this goal:
He may not be the pure/prototypical goal-scorer like Flip Zadina, but Berggren’s ability to see the game and create scoring chances is top-notch. Our friends over at Eyes On The Prize assessed his offensive game in their pre-draft report:
What makes him such a productive player, even if he faltered a bit at the senior level? He has a great hockey IQ and vision for the game that allows him to outsmart his peers. He has a good shot, but he doesn’t rely on it as much. He is instead known for being able to constantly deliver the puck to teammates in high-danger areas.
Often compared to another small and speedy Swede, Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, Berggren will rely on his quick-feet and play-making abilities as he continues his journey to the NHL/North America - something that will take at lest a couple more years - but it should be worth the wait.
Before making his Swedish Hockey League debut last year with Skelleftea AIK, he played for the club’s junior team and tallied 57 points (18 G, 39A) in 38 games played. His transition to playing in the SHL wasn’t immediately productive, he was unable to record a point in ten games played during the regular season. Once again, per Eyes On The Prize, the ten game stint can be explained:
Berggren only had a 10-game stint in the SHL this season, but it should not be held against him that he didn’t get to play more in Sweden’s top league; Skellefteå was stacked with good players, and made a run into the SHL Final in the end. Instead, Berggren more or less destroyed the competition in the SuperElite, where he had five more points than the second best player in four fewer games.
Berggren had a very productive showing at the U18 WJC, he totaled 23 points (11 G, 12 A) in 20 games played at the tournament. The kid is proving he’s able to produce at every level and on every stage so far, so it will be very interesting to keep a close eye on him as he gets a full season under his belt in the SHL in 2018-19.
Ultimately, there’s a lot to look forward to in Jonatan Berggren. His skill with the puck, his speed, play making ability/finishing touch are all things hockey fans love to see out on the ice. Going back to the Arvidsson comparison, Berggren is a similar spark plug type player like the dynamic Predators winger - and as someone who lives in Nashville, I can tell you first-hand how that type of player can electrify fans and change the momentum of any given game.
Like most prospects, Berggren will continue to adjust and grow in his native country before he makes the leap to North American hockey. He will have the support and structure of the Red Wings development team to help him in his journey of achieving his dream of playing for his favorite NHL team.
And in regard to Hakan Andersson’s excitement about having Berggren in Detroit’s prospect pipeline:
“We’re happy,” Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson said. “He’s young. He led the Swedish Junior League in scoring this year and a couple other teams said they were going to take him right after us.”
Those two teams drafting after the Wings at picks 34 and 35 were the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens, both divisional rivals of Detroit - and both selected right-wing players.
Does Jonatan Berggren deserve to be ranked at #14 in his debut year?
This poll is closed
Time Will Tell