Photo Credit: Nathalie Andersson
Scouting Report written by Alex Appleyard
Örnsköldsvik has become synonymous with hockey over the last 30 years. The small town of just 30,000 people nestled in the Gulf of Bothnia has not just produced numerous NHLers… it has produced enough Hall of Fame calibre talents then you can only just count them on one hand. Peter Forsberg, Markus Näslund, Victor Hedman, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, all products of the Ångermanland town and MODO Hockey club.
Now, William Strömgren is not the level of player of any of the above. And next season he won’t even be playing for MODO, having moved to Rögle in the SHL for 2021-22. But can he be the next NHL product from Sweden’s hockey Mecca? He certainly has a good shot of adding his name to the already impressive list.
D.O.B – June 7, 2003
Nationality – Sweden
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 6’3
Weight –176 lbs
Position – Left Wing/Right Wing
Handedness – Left
Strömgren’s Style Of Play
Throughout his junior career the big forward has stood out due to his skating ability. It is rare to see a player with such a large frame for his age burn smaller defensemen, let alone out-manoeuvre them in close, but against players his own age Strömgren is capable of just this. Now, he has not fully grown into his frame yet, and as such he can occasionally look slightly “bambi-like”, especially with his up-right skating style. But the lower body strength, edge-work, and power when in stride are there already. Strangely, Strömgren actually looks a better skater with the puck on his stick that with-out, as he seems to get lower to the ice and in turn waste less energy. That being said, skating will never be an issue for Strömgren, and with some extra strength he will likely be able to drop a shoulder and get past most NHL defensemen in future.
Arguably his stand-out skill is his shot. His one-timer is up there as one of the best in the draft, and leaves even pro goalies stranded in Allsvenskan. The way he shoots is beautiful to behold. Most players “hammer” the puck to get velocity. He seemingly “caresses” it into a corner at high speed. Fluid and efficient with a hint of elegance is how you would describe his one-timer from the right side. His wrist-shot is of a similar calibre and equally beautiful to watch. The power he generates defies the ease with which he leans into his stick. That, allied with a great eye for a corner, means goalies often don’t get the chance to move. His release is so quick and effortless that if there is even a slight screen the goalie won’t even realise a shot is incoming, especially with the proficiency that Strömgren has shooting in stride. His strength and willingness to get to the net also means he can do the dirty work in close.
His passing is not on the same level as his shot. However, it is not a deficiency. From a technical perspective when he sees a pass he can effect it no matter what the difficulty level. The issue at times is that he does not see some passes that he should. Part of this is as he is primarily a goal-scorer, and wants to get to the danger areas instead of waiting for a precision pass. Part of this is also likely due to a small degree of “puck-hog” buried inside of him. Part of this is likely as while technically extremely proficient in every area his hockey IQ is not quite the same level.
For a big man the Swedish winger has soft, deceptive hands. Not only this, he has the confidence to use them. He can manoeuvre the puck in close to any way you can imagine, while in stride. As such, he is also able to use this ability to help unleash his high-end shot, manipulating defensemen to make them stand off, or re-positioning the puck from a bad pass at the last minute from heel to toe to pick a corner.
However, there can also be a downside to this. Hubris. At times that is what it appears Strömgren has with the puck on his stick. Especially when playing against men. There were some games where he was a turnover machine due to making one too many moves or trying to dangle past a player when it was not on. He did clean this area up as the year went on, which is a positive, but it will always be in his natural mind-set to take players on, and hopefully he can continue to be more selective in this area.
As a forechecker Strömgren uses his good skating and reach, alongside his willingness to engage physically, to harass opposition defensemen and make their life hell on the break-out. His extremely active stick at times comes from no-where to disrupt a pass or steal a puck off a stick. He does not seem to be as intuitive as the best fore-checkers in this area – he can occasionally chase too far or get crossed up with own line-mates — but you cannot fault his willingness and work-rate here. With more maturity here with his skating and frame he could be a juggernaut on the fore-check even in the NHL. Once on the cycle or protecting the puck down low even fully grown men with 10 years of pro experience struggle to relieve him of the puck.
What is confusing at times is his work inside the red-line. He is willing to get back. But in contrast to his fore-checking he does not move his feet enough at times and can get caught puck-watching. Additionally, he has been guilty of mis-reading plays too often and getting himself out of position as a result. Work ethic here is seemingly not the issue though, it just appears that he can be prone to that “rabbit in headlights” feeling in the defensive zone. This should be rectified with more experience and good coaching going forward, but don’t expect the young Swede to be ever anything more than “solid” defensively.
As you can probably infer from all of the above, Strömgren is raw. He has a wonderful set of tools, and he has really started to begin figuring out exactly how to arrange them within his toolbox. If he can continue to progress both mentally and physically over the next few seasons he will be an NHL player. Given his skill-set it is very possible that the hulking winger ends up a good second line winger who can potentially hit 20 or more goals a season with some regularity. He will be a good pick-up for a team in the second round of the 2021 draft.
Benoît Pouliot, Left Wing, retired (Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres)
Like the ex-journeyman NHL winger Pouliot, Strömgren really does have an all-around game breaking skill-set with a big body, good skating, great hands and a beautiful shot. However, as with Pouliot there are questions around his defensive game as well as his hockey IQ at times. While Pouliot did play four seasons at second line level, if Strömgren can iron out more of his deficiencies than the Canadian winger managed to over his career, he could certainly have more longevity in a top six role.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alex on Twitter, his handle is @alexappleyard.
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