Alexander Wennberg spent the 2012-13 season playing for Djurgården in Sweden's Allsvenskan. Now, European hockey works much like European football in that teams can move from one professional league to another based on a system of promotion and relegation. In this case, the Allsvenskan is the second-best professional hockey league in Sweden, and if a team plays well enough, it earns a promotion into what used to be called the Swedish Elite League (and has just changed its name to the Swedish Hockey League). And how good is the Allsvenskan? As it turns out, Kent Wilson tried to answer that exact question in November and found that the league is a step up in difficulty from the CHL, but not as strong as other professional leagues like the KHL, SHL (SEL), SM-liiga, or AHL.
The present incarnation of the Allsvenskan relatively new, having played its first season in 2005-06. That makes it difficult to find specific comparables for Wennberg, but there have been a few players drafted in the first round who played in the Allsvenskan, all of whom are listed below.
That makes Wennberg look pretty darn good! All three of the other players have only just begun their NHL careers, but all three remain highly-regarded players. That Wennberg's offense dwarfs theirs can't be seen as anything other than an excellent sign. Of course, Wennberg is also significantly older than these other three prospects. As such, it probably behooves us to look at which players performed better than Wennberg in their Draft +1 seasons, and there are a few.
These numbers probably won't serve as a helpful yardstick going forward since Wennberg is going to be playing in the SHL next season, but you can see that he's not far behind this group of players as is, although Berglund is the only established NHL player, and he's some distance from being a star.
One of the difficulties with using such young players for comparables is that you're still doing an awful lot of guessing about how the comparables will turn out! That's one of the big reasons I find ranking Wennberg particularly difficult. That's when scouting reports can be really helpful. Kyle Woodlief has praised Wennberg's versatility, noting that he can play just as well as a scorer as he can as a penalty killer. Corey Pronman's scouting report suggests a player with good... everything:
His skating is above average, and some scouts have classified it as high end because of his speed and elusiveness. His offensive instincts stand out.... He has the puck skills and vision to create scoring chances for himself and others. His defensiveness awareness enables him to kill penalties effectively. His game shows a unique power element, but to succeed in North America with that style, he will have to bulk up.
It's pretty high praise. Everyone seems to agree that he's gotten better over the course of the season, and aside from strength and age, I haven't seen anyone raising concerns. Because of the league he plays in, the offense is a bit of a question mark for me, but even there we see encouraging signs.
Next up tomorrow morning: Kerby Rychel
My Draft List:
1 - Nathan MacKinnon (Comparables)
2 - Jonathan Drouin (Comparables)
3 - Seth Jones (Comparables)
4 - Aleksander Barkov (Comparables)
5 - Elias Lindholm (Comparables)
6 - Valeri Nichushkin (Comparables)
7 - Sean Monahan (Comparables)
8 - Rasmus Ristolainen (Comparables)
9 - Darnell Nurse (Comparables)
10 - Anthony Mantha (Comparables)
11 - Max Domi (Comparables)
12 - Hunter Shinkaruk (Comparables)
13 - Ryan Pulock (Comparables)
14 - Alexander Wennberg
15 - Nikita Zadorov (Comparables)
16 - Josh Morrissey (Comparables)
17 - Frederik Gauthier (Comparables)
18 - Bo Horvat (Comparables)
19 - Adam Erne (Comparables)
20 - Curtis Lazar (Comparables)