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The 2018 NHL Draft has been called the year of the Swedish defenceman. Another prospect who adds to that moniker is Filip Johansson. The 17-year-old got his first taste of Allsvenskan action this year. Playing against men, he got in 23 games, and even scored his first goal. As a young player, he got very limited ice time. He was better in the SHL qualifying tournament, Johansson got a bigger role and delivered with two goals and three assists for five points in 11 games. Johansson saw more success at the J20 level. He put up four goals and five assists for nine points in 29 games.
Johansson has also represented Sweden on the international stage. He picked up a goal and three assists in four games at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament, helping Sweden to the bronze medal. He also picked up a goal and an assist at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships, again winning bronze. Johansson had three assists in six games at the 2016-17 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, helping Sweden to a gold medal.
Johansson’s grandfather, Kjell Johansson, played professional hockey in Sweden in the 1960s and 1970s.
Filip Johansson Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born March 23rd, 2000 — Västerås, Sweden
Height 6’1″ — Weight 187 lbs [185 cm / 85 kg]
Filip Johansson is a good but not great skater. He has decent speed in both directions, but it is not overwhelming. His acceleration is also above average. Johansson’s edgework and agility are plus skills. His ability to move side-to-side helps him in defending against the rush as well as playing the point on the powerplay. Johansson could improve his lower-body strength and balance. This would help him in battles along the boards and in front of the net. He’s good at the junior level, but playing against men, this has been the biggest concern.
Johansson shows poise and patience with the puck. He is effective at skating it out of his own end and starting the rush. Johansson can lead the rush, or join it as a trailer. He makes a good first pass, and is able to throw long breakaway passes if a forward gets behind the opponent’s defence. He is also skilled at controlling the play from the point on the power play. Johansson can make tape-to-tape passes through tight areas and set up teammates for good scoring opportunities.
Johansson’s slapshot is decent, but not overpowering. He uses his good lateral movement to open up shooting lanes and gets his shot on net. Johansson also understands that he needs to keep his shot low, to create opportunities for rebounds and tip-ins. He likes to sneak in from the point and uses his wrist shot from the top of the circles. This shot is more effective, as he has a strong wrist shot and a quick release.
Johansson is a smart defensive player. He has good positioning, cutting down passing and shooting lanes. He also maintains good gap control. If an opportunity to hit presents itself, he can be effective physically. However, Johansson plays a disciplined game and does not run around looking for hits and getting caught out of position. He uses his size well in the corners and in front of the net. Johansson can stand to bulk up though. If he was stronger, he would be even more effective. There are times when particularly big and physical forwards can cause Johansson issues.
Projection and Comparison
While there are some areas of Johansson’s game that need to be ironed out, the potential here is high. He could be a top-four defenseman if he is able to develop that potential. Johansson could become an effective puck-mover who is valuable on the power play. He needs to bulk up. Expect him to spend a season or two in Sweden before making his way to North America, and learning the game on a smaller ice surface. Johansson’s game is reminiscent of Justin Schultz of the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is a style comparison only though and not one based on potential or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Filip Johansson that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty ImagesPLYMOUTH, MI – FEBRUARY 15: Filip Johansson #5 of the Sweden Nationals follows the play against the Finland Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 15, 2018, in Plymouth, Michigan. Finland defeated Sweden 5-3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images Sport)