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Dec 13The Olympic Kids – prospects that starred on the big stage
Dec 13Can any of the WJC underdogs break through in Buffalo?  
Dec 12A Russian trend – three forwards headed for the first round?
Dec 12Deep Russian squad looks to extend medal streak 
Dec 11The 2018 WJC underdog that could win it all
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December 06, 2017

The hunt for the next Erik Karlsson

Potential. Like a mining corporation on the lookout for the next great vein of minerals or an oil company scrambling to find another untapped oil well, NHL organizations crave potential. Potential in the form of an electric young player that will put fans in the seats, help the franchise win games and (hopefully) have a marketable personality. If you needed further proof of that, just look to what Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby has managed to do with their respective teams in the decade since they were drafted. On-ice success notwithstanding, both have managed to cement the impression of Washington and Pittsburgh as successful franchises who are worth spending your hard-earned money on.

The beauty of potential is that it can be anything. While Ovechkin has slowed down a bit and Crosby has been hampered by injuries from time to time, as prospects they both carried the potential to eclipse even the most untouchable records and achievements. That’s what makes potential so attractive to teams and fans alike, you can make up your own ending.

The raw, unfiltered potential that resides within a 13-year old kid dangling around opponents a few years older than him in a cold hockey barn located in the middle of no and where. The same potential you see in a video – captured by cell phone – of an effortless spin move made by a talented defender in a run-of-the-mill QMJHL game in November.

These days, you can’t throw a digital stone on Twitter without hitting a fan (or expert) anointing the most talented prospects the “next” something. And why not? As we established earlier, there is always the potential that someone could develop quicker, score more and ultimately surpass the stars of today. It doesn’t matter how big of a star we are talking about, teams are always looking for his successor.


Timothy Liljegren. Photo: Bildbyrån/Ludvig Thunman

Such is the case with the most talented offensive defenders to come out of Sweden in the past few drafts. Oliver Kylington, Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Dahlin have all – at some point – been referred to as the next Erik Karlsson. All three were, and continue to be, hailed for their tremendous skating and offensive instincts with Kylington and Liljegren also appearing similar in stature to Karlsson (Dahlin has a larger frame) when they skated the puck up the ice.

While success in the top Swedish league (SHL) at a young age is no definitive marker of a player’s pedigree, it is worth noting that Karlsson played just seven games in the SHL as an under-18 player, scoring one goal, while Kylington, Liljegren and Dahlin were given the chance to play 40-60 games over the course of two full seasons. Karlsson went on to acclimatize himself incredibly fast in the NHL as a 19-year old and has continued to prove himself every season since, but when comparing under-18 players, the trio of millennials could all be considered more successful. The potential was there, wasn’t it?

Knowing what we know now: Kylington dropping from a predicted first-round pick to being picked last in the second round, Liljegren dropping out of Top-5 contention to 17th overall due to bouts with injuries and a nagging illness – perhaps it wasn’t fair to anoint these players the next anything and just leave them to develop their own style. Perhaps that could have unburdened them of the pressure that comes with the label of being the next all-time great. Neither Kylington nor Liljegren are considered busts by any stretch of the imagination but it is becoming safe to say that neither will surpass Karlsson in their careers.

No one can really predict what will become of Rasmus Dahlin but we are already hearing about him being referred to as the future of Swedish hockey, as having the skating and offense of Karlsson with the defense of Nicklas Lidström.

Everyone craves potential but it is easy to lose yourself in what can be, forgetting what is. Let us hope that Dahlin can handle the pressure that comes with being the “next Karlsson” because in a few years, you can be sure that some new prospect will come along and be hailed as the “next Dahlin”.

I look forward to watching Karlsson, Kylington, Liljegren and Dahlin make their mark on the NHL for the next decade.

Hampus Duvefelt



13 December, 2017

The Olympic Kids – prospects that starred on the big stage

The other day, we were looking at some of the players that might turn WJC success into a chance to compete at the Olympics in South Korea in February. If player...

13 December, 2017

Can any of the WJC underdogs break through in Buffalo?  

It?s known who the Big 5 at the World Juniors are, as Canada, the United States, Sweden, Russia, and Finland historically form the top half of the tournament. B...

12 December, 2017

A Russian trend – three forwards headed for the first round?

It has been almost a decade since it happened the last time. To be specific, the year was 2010 and the players were Alexander Burmistrov, Vladimir Tarasenko and...

12 December, 2017

Deep Russian squad looks to extend medal streak 

Though Russia hasn?t had many household names on their World Junior rosters recently, they?ve seen major success at the tournament.  Last year, Russia went 2-2 ...

11 December, 2017

The 2018 WJC underdog that could win it all

Everyone loves an underdog. Be it professional sports, fictional stories or real life tales ? there are few things quite as stirring as watching an unlikely her...

11 December, 2017

The World Junior Championships – an audition for the Olympics

There will be more than medals at stake during the World Juniors in Buffalo later this month. The NHL’s decision to stop their players from participating ...

10 December, 2017

Sweden’s elite talent looks to end cycle of WJC mediocrity

 Sweden has had an underwhelming run at the World Juniors the last few years. But this year, things could change.  In each of the past three tournaments, Sweden...

10 December, 2017

Lukas Vejdemo – taking the patient route to the NHL

It’s a hockey debate that always seem to be raging in Sweden. On one hand, you have the people that feel it’s better for a prospect to stay on home ...

09 December, 2017

Nicklas Lidström on Rasmus Dahlin: “He looks like Brian Leetch”

There’s been no shortage of homages for Rasmus Dahlin this season. The projected first overall pick in the 2018 NHL entry draft has taken the hockey world...

09 December, 2017

Where are they now? – Three forgotten WJC stars

Whenever you come across a story entitled ?where are they now?, it is usually a foregone conclusion that the story will feature individuals who at one time perf...

08 December, 2017

Breaking down Team Canada’s roster snubs

On Wednesday, Canada announced its preliminary roster for the World Junior Hockey tournament via an extravagant ceremony in St. Catharines, Ontario. For the 32 ...

08 December, 2017

Finland on the rebound after disastrous showing at last year’s WJC 

It was nothing short of a disaster for Finland at last year?s World Juniors in Toronto and Montreal.  The Finns won just one game in the group stage and finishe...

07 December, 2017

Away from the spotlight

In the quaint little ski resort of Méribel, nestled deep in the French Alps, hockey isn?t exactly on the everyday agenda. Replace skates with skis and hockey ti...

07 December, 2017

Why Adam Boqvist wasn’t picked for the Swedish WJC camp

An abundance of riches? Well, Team Sweden will certainly have some quality on the backend at this year’s WJC in Buffalo. So much so that coach Tomas Monté...

07 December, 2017

Sabres faithful may get chance to see Mittelstadt shine

Drafted eighth in the first round this past June by the Buffalo Sabres, it?s looking more and more likely that Minnesota native Casey Mittelstadt has a rare opp...