Sweden Stock Watch: Oscar Fisker Mølgaard taking off with HV71
Swedish hockey has crossed the 40-game mark at just about every level, and the competition is getting more and more fierce by the day as teams battle it out for standings position.
Many players who've already been drafted are playing bigger roles, looking to help play a part in their team's push to the promised land. And even in a relative down year for Sweden at the draft, there are a handful of draft-eligible skaters establishing themselves as everyday pros in the SHL and HockeyAllsvenskan.
I've highlighted the play of some of the prospects rising to the occasion in this latest instalment in the Sweden Stock Watch. Let's get to it.
Stock Rising 📈
Oscar Fisker Mølgaard, C, HV71 (Seattle Kraken)
Oscar Fisker Mølgaard's development has been strong and steady in his sophomore SHL season. It's starting to show on the scoreboard, with the Seattle Kraken second-rounder picking up a point in nine of his last 13 games. All while playing centre as an 18-year-old and being his line's primary play-driver.
For Mølgaard, it's all about constant movement, good defensive positioning, and supporting the puck at every corner of the ice. His small-area game has developed nicely since last season, too. He can protect the puck and make plays with his hands, something that wasn't all that common in his first year of SHL action. You pair that with his constant scanning and his ability to make plays and it's a pretty compelling offensive package.
Mølgaard increasingly looks like a perfect middle-six centre prospect for the Kraken. He's a player that you can deploy in almost every situation and reliably get strong play out of even when the points aren't coming.
Filip Eriksson, F, Växjö Lakers/Nybro Vikings (Montréal Canadiens)
Filip Eriksson has been the talk of the town lately. After spending the first half of the season playing bottom-six minutes for Växjö, he joined Nybro on loan in HockeyAllsvenskan, Since then, he's put up a point in each of his first nine games, which is an incredible feat for a sixth-round pick in last year's draft who didn't even crack Sweden's World Junior roster.
What's allowed Eriksson to excel of late is his quick decision-making and pace with the puck. He's an explosive skater in close quarters, effective off of the give-and-go, capable of finding space in the offensive zone, and can cover a lot of ground. He does most of his goal-scoring in tight.
On top of that, you have his work in the defensive zone. Eriksson is an engaged player, positions himself well, and makes stops. He could do a better job of transitioning from defence to offence, but that may come with time. The NHL is always going to be a long shot for a sixth-round pick, but if Eriksson can keep honing in on his defensive game, that might give him a chance.
Linus Eriksson, C, Djurgårdens IF (2024 NHL Draft)
We couldn't find a spot for Linus Eriksson on our last 2024 NHL Draft ranking, but it's starting to look like there will be a spot for him on our next board if he keeps this up. More than anything, Eriksson is a smart player. That's allowed him to centre Djurgården's top line and fit in seamlessly.
He's a player who adapts easily to different environments, in part because he's so reliable defensively. Eriksson positions himself in the right spots and does a great job of taking away time and space from opponents.
There's some work to do offensively. Eriksson isn't yet a play-driver, but he can support the puck and make plays at pace. And with skilled linemates, he can put up points at a decent enough clip, especially assists. He doesn't manipulate or control opponents movements yet with the puck but his adaptability makes him an effective player with the puck on his stick anyway. He's got middle- or bottom-six centre potential.
Stock Steady ↔️
Liam Öhgren, F, Färjestads BK (Minnesota Wild)
This has been far from an optimal season for Liam Öhgren. He didn't see the ice until December as he recovered from an injury and then struggled in his country's colours at the World Juniors. In club play, though, I've mostly liked what I've seen from Öhgren, which is good news if you're a Wild fan.
Öhgren's skating looks great and he's using it to pressure opponents all over the ice, whether it's on the forecheck or the backcheck. In fact, he's played so well and has made so much progress with his skating that it looks like he could fit on the Wild's fourth line tomorrow.
He hasn't been an offensive driver yet this season and isn't likely to at any point in his career. He's been more of a play connector this year with short puck touches informed by proactive scanning ahead of each touch. He's still got a good wrist shot and has scored a handful of goals in the SHL since his return. I still see him as someone on track for a middle- or bottom-six role at the NHL level.
Simon Forsmark, D, Timrå IK (Carolina Hurricanes)
Simon Forsmark fell all the way to the fourth-round in the 2022 draft and then followed that up with a weak draft-plus-one in the 2022-23 season, in which he got fewer professional reps than in his draft year. It was as if all the confidence he'd shown in his draft year had left his game.
This season started off poorly, with inconsistent performances at the SHL level, but due to the team's injury problems, he never lost his spot. He also managed to stabilize his performance and is now holding his own as a 20-year-old defenceman in a top pro league, starting to produce serious offence while playing in every situation.
He moves with ease, has nice touch, is a good passer with good timing and shows calm and patience. He is still a bit slow to make plays at times, and though his defensive reads are more consistent now, he lacks aggression and physicality, which makes him vulnerable to defending the rush if he is slightly out of position, and he tends to leave a bigger gap to feel safe in those sequences. This season has been an impressive turnaround, and his fourth-round stock looks steady. He lacks bottom-pair defensive abilities but is a good puck-mover. If he keeps developing strongly there might be a top-four defenceman there long term.
Stock Falling 📉
Lian Bichsel, D, Rögle BK (Dallas Stars)
I haven't been very impressed by Lian Bichsel this season. The 6-foot-6, 234-pound Swiss blueliner still has the potential to become an NHL player, though. His skating is the same strength it's always been, especially with the puck on his stick, allowing him to easily get out of trouble and find the time to make a play. It also helps defend on the rush, where he just takes away space and always keeps the play in front of him.
He's not the quickest in the defensive zone, though. He looks clumsy when he needs to make a quick change of direction, and can easily be manipulated by opposing forward. It's working well enough at this level, but without a better defensive stick and a reach that's uncharacteristically small for someone his size, there could be some difficulty translating.
When he has the puck with his back against the play down low under pressure he tends to make panic plays rather than being able to read the situation. All-in-all, he will need a lot of time to become that shutdown defender he has the potential to be. Bichsel's game is more polished on the violent part but his backwards skating hurts him right now if we look at an NHL projection.