Speedy Berggren hopes to become another Red Wings draft gem

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Jonatan Berggren, center, had 18 goals and 39 assists in 38 games in the Swedish junior league last season.

Detroit — This happened a lot to the Detroit Red Wings during June’s Entry Draft, when the organization picked so many players who appeared to slip in the draft and land in the Wings’ laps.

Teams, or fellow scouts, would congratulate the Wings landing a player who somehow slipped down the draft much further than anyone anticipated.

And, so it went, when the Wings picked forward Jonatan Berggren, drafted in the second round.

“A couple of teams came up and said they were planning to take him right after us,” said Hakan Andersson, the Wings’ director of European scouting. “Montreal was one of them.”

Judging from scouting reports, and Berggren’s brief work in the Wings’ development camp, it’s easy to see why teams were envious.

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Berggren is a 5-foot-11, 183-pound right wing who seemingly never slows down on the ice, is a headache for opponents at both ends of the ice, and has definitely shown the ability to score goals in his amateur career.

At Skelleftea in the Swedish junior league last season, Berggren had 18 goals and 39 assists in 38 games.

Berggren scored 22 goals in 26 games three years ago playing Bantam level in Sweden, and during the camp at Little Caesars Arena, showed a goal-scorer’s touch.

“Real speedy forward, great intensity, and he has a good feel for the net,” Andersson said. “We’re happy to have him for sure.”

And make no mistake, Berggren is glad to be in the Wings’ organization.

As a youngster growing up in Sweden, Berggren was a big fan of the Wings, and specifically, Henrik Zetterberg.

“Oh yes, because of all the Swedes (on the roster),” said Berggren, after a development camp practice last month. “The Wings were my favorite team when I was a child. Zetterberg was my favorite player. I haven’t met him yet.

“I’m happy to be a Red Wing.”

But not happy, entirely, about the entire draft process.

Berggren had a fine season in juniors, and was one of Sweden’s best players during the world under-18 tournament (five goals, five assists in seven games).

But despite the good offensive numbers and physical skills, teams passed on Berggren during the first-round of the NHL Draft.

“It was a little disappointing not to be picked (in the first round),” Berggren said. “I was sad. I had a good season. So to be picked by Detroit, it was amazing.”

Red Line Report, a well-respected NHL draft analysis, thought highly of Berggren.

“Was Sweden’s best and most dangerous forward at the World U-18 championships. Ultra quick feet and always keep them moving. Plenty of slick moves, dangerous off the rush, and has an inside-out move that makes defenders look silly,” RLR said. “Smallish but plays feisty… Makes a legitimate effort in the defensive end and sacrifices his body along the wall to clear the zone.”

Still, scouts who were surveyed by The Hockey News before the draft, were given pause by Berggren’s size.

“He struggles under contact,” one anynomous scout told THN. “That being said, he’s an excellent skater. He’s able to navigate to not put himself  into a lot of physical situations. Not that he avoids it.

“But he’s at a disadvantage with any physical encounter.”

Berggren understands his limitations, and tries to play to his strengths as often as he can.

“My speed and skating,” said Berggren, asked what he likes to emphasize on the ice. “I try to make my teammates better, set them up with passes.”

Many analysts and scouts compare Berggren to Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson, who played on the same Swedish junior team, has an identical build, and plays a similar style.

Arvidsson had 29 goals and 61 points for Nashville this season, so if Berggren progresses to that level, the Wings would be entirely pleased.

“We both are small players,” Berggren said. “We have a lot of speed.”


Twitter @tkulfan