Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Anton Johannesson.
Injured over much of the last two years, Swedish defenceman Anton Johannesson might be flying under the radar when it comes to 2020 Draft prospects. Playing in the HV71 system, Johannesson put up three goals and three assists for six points in five games in the J18 league. Clearly dominating at that level, he moved up to the Sweden’s top Under-20 league, the SuperElit where he scored eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points in 20 games. He also had two points in four games at the Junior Club World Cup. Johannesson played big minutes of the HV71 J20 top pair with fellow 2020 NHL Draft prospect Emil Andrae. He also played two games for Sweden’s U18 national team, appearing at the Five Nations Tournament.
In 2018-19 Johannesson played eight games in the SuperElit putting up one goal and one assist. He also played three games in the J18, picking up two assists. Johannesson represented Sweden in the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, picking up one goal and three points in five games and winning a bronze medal. In 2017-18 he was one of the best players in the Under-16 league, scoring 10 goals and 32 points in 14 games.
Anton Johannesson Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born March 26th, 2002 — Gnosjo, Sweden
Height 5’9″ — Weight 154 lbs [175 cm/70 kg]
Johannesson is an outstanding skater. He has excellent speed in both directions. His first step and acceleration are also very good. This allows Johannesson to play a 200-foot game and helps him to compensate for his lack of size. Johannesson’s agility and edgework are elite. He is able to quickly change direction as well as move laterally in both the offensive and defensive zones. Johannesson’s turns are very tight. His pivots are extremely quick and smooth. Johannesson is able to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He is not strong enough on his skates though. A low centre of gravity is helpful but Johannesson needs to add muscle to his frame. As he matures that may come, but lack of size will likely always be some level of liability for him.
Johannesson is an excellent puck-mover. He has quick hands and marries this with his excellent skating. Johannesson can make moves while skating at top speed. He avoids forecheckers and gets the puck out of his own zone. He can also make a smart pass to start the transition game. If an attacker gets behind the defence, Johannesson can hit him with a long breakaway pass. He can also carry the puck through the neutral zone and lead the rush. On the powerplay, Johannesson is always keeping his feet moving both with and without the puck. This movement helps to open up passing lanes. A creative passer, Johannesson can put the puck through seems and set up teammates for scoring chances. He loves to fake the slap shot and freeze the defence, making a slap pass to a teammate.
Johannesson does not have a big slap shot at the point. However, he is still able to score goals. His wrist shot has a very quick release and is hard and accurate. His lateral movement allows him to open up shooting lanes and get the puck on the net. Johannesson understands how to keep his shot low and on the net. This allows his teammates to get deflections, rebounds, and set up screens. He is an aggressive player, pushing the pace, joining the rush and pinching at the blue line. While this adds to possession and offensive chances, he can also get caught from time to time.
Johannesson’s defensive game is a work in progress. When he is defending against the rush, he can be tough to beat thanks to his good backwards skating as well as his lateral agility. He maintains good gap control and funnels opponents to the outside. He also uses his active stick to knock the puck away from opponents. While he is willing to battle for loose pucks and try to contain the cycle game, his lack of size causes issues. This is another area where added muscle on his frame will be needed. A more fixable issue though is his play away from the puck. He can sometimes start to puck watch and lose his man. He will need to work on his consistency as well as remaining focused going forward.
Projection and Comparison
Johannesson’s skating and offensive ability are an intriguing package for any team. These are skills that are very hard to teach. On the other hand, he needs to improve his defensive game and his awareness away from the puck is something that good coaching and more time on the ice will improve. The lost development time may play a big factor here. Johannesson will need to bulk up though. If he can do that while not losing any of his mobility or skill, he could become a top-four defencemen, especially with how the NHL is trending. His game is reminiscent of Ryan Ellis but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Anton Johannesson that are available on youtube and twitter.
This little D is really intriguing Anton Johannesson
5ft9 and 154lbs, he looks like he's 15 years old. Extremely gifted, he's a natural. Very long term project but he could be worth the wait. Better pts per game than Erik Karlsson and Adam boqvist in SuperElit J20 ? pic.twitter.com/BPHGlKqKUf
— Yannick St-Pierre (@DraftDynasty1) March 8, 2020
A player that far too many people have been sleeping on for the #2020NHLDraft is LHD Anton Johannesson (#3 below)
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) February 27, 2020
It will be fun to watch Anton Johannesson (#3 in white) next year. He's just 16 years old but was already the #1 D-man for HV71 J20 team at the #JCWC2018 tournament. Great skater, great puck-skills. Looks like he could be a high pick in the #2020NHLDraft. pic.twitter.com/8UnUI6jZSF
— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) August 26, 2018
W Zion Nybeck (2020) gets his 2nd goal of the game in OT.
— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) February 23, 2020
— Joel Lander (@JoelLander1891) March 4, 2020
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Anton Johannesson Main Photo:
SWEDEN: Anton Johannesson, D (2020) #NHLDraft profile -FREE a while – rising fast for @jimmyhamrin as the most skilled Swedish defenseman in this year’s draft – only played 18 games due to injury – dominating SuperElit, w/over Pt/GM so far SLEEPER ALERT?! https://t.co/tcTRTSBeF1 pic.twitter.com/2AK6zf5LET
— McKeen’s Hockey (@mckeenshockey) March 2, 2020