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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Pontus Åberg

Pontus Åberg, LW
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden, 9/23/93
Bio: 6’0, 190 lbs., R
Djurgården IF, Elitserien
Rankings: ISS – 20; CSS – 6 (EU)

The Skinny: With game-breaking speed, Pontus Åberg is an effective two-way scorer with rare explosiveness, grit and finish.


One of Sweden’s ‘Big Three -Berg’ forwards headed into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (along with Forsberg and Collberg), Pontus Åberg is the only one who’s spent virtually the entire season in the top-flight Swedish Elite League. There, he’s shown an impressive capacity for scoring goals and dynamic skating skills that make him a likely candidate for first-round selection.

Despite missing the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships because of a tourney prep-game injury, Åberg has seen his stock soar with solid (if unspectacular) production in the SEL. Åberg had eight goals and seven assists for fifteen points while playing against men with Djurgården. This may seem light, but when you consider that Mika Zibanejad, last year’s sixth overall pick only registered five goals and nine points last season for Djurgården (26 games).

With speed to burn, Åberg has first-rate finishing potential. He drives hard to the net consistently and has a quick, hard shot which is more than capable of surprising netminders. His pacing is excellent, slowing things down to create space and open lanes or blowing past defensemen when he turns on the afterburners.

His game has a bit of sandpaper to it; he’s always working hard to win puck battles all over the ice but shows particular affinity for the areas in front of and behind the net. Relentless in his pursuit, he will doggedly chase down opponents in the neutral and defensive zones and consistently demonstrates an above-average defensive acumen. Despite modest size (varying reports have him between 5’10 and 6’0) he’s strong and uses leverage to gain positioning.

He lacks impressive playmaking capabilities, which limit his overall scoring potential and upside. Scouts note some creative tendencies (especially in traffic), but those don’t seem to extend to his distribution game.

Despite some minor flaws, Pontus is a solid all-around scorer. When one considers his world-class skating game, it’s not hard to see him finding a way into the top fifteen picks come June. Injuries prevented him from helping Djurgården stave off relegation this spring, and his cool finish resulted in many organizations ranking him outside the top-twenty. Still, with his hockey sense, skillset and athleticism, getting him anywhere in the twenties would be highway robbery.

 

Ideal Fits: Teams looking to add speed and skill in forwards in the mid-first round: Ottawa, Buffalo, Washington, San Jose, Calgary, Dallas

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because speed kills; because he’s a gritty top-six talent with finish and two-way potential.

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because even with his physical tools and finish, his modest distribution game is a concern; because his cold finish leaves unanswered questions. 

Strengths: Skating (Speed, Acceleration, Lateral Agility), Shooting, Grit, Defensive Acumen, Work Ethic

Weaknesses/Concerns: Playmaking, Vision

Projection: Second-Line Two-Way Winger with Scoring Upside (30g, 60p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First Round, 12-21

Overall Rank: 16

Euro Rank: 4

Sweden Rank: 3

Forward Rank: 9

Swedish National Rank: 3

Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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