The model for the defensive position is evolving as fast as the NHL does. Prototypical players, large and lethargic, are falling by the wayside as the speed of the game will likely continue to be thrust into the spotlight as the league strives for popularity.
However, there are always outliers. And while the Boston Bruins have superstar defenseman Zdeno Chara leading their team, the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to mold Viktor Svedberg into a Chara type player. With regards to size, Svedberg has been gifted with a 6-foot-8 234-pound body, something every team wants in its defensive system.
That being said, declaring Svedverg as NHL ready simply due to his size would be downright wrong. In Europe, he took far too many penalties despite his size, not because of it. Also, like every other prospect adjusting to American rinks, he needs time to alter his hockey instincts and positioning.
Svedberg seems to be adapting fairly well as in 21 games he has seven points to go along with an improved plus-2 rating. Svedberg’s offensive game is rather impressive for a man his size, and he has put 28 pucks on net in the AHL while slightly decreasing his penalty minutes. Overall, the 22 year old Swede has shown he has the well-rounded game that the Blackhawks signed him for.
With regards to his place in the system, Svedberg is listed as fourth in the Blackhawks system among pro players, but being signed into a great system is both a blessing and a curse. The defensive depth of the Blackhawks puts him 14th among all defensive prospects; however, there is nobody in the system like him, meaning if the opportunity arises Svedberg can greatly boost his stock in the eyes of scouts.
The Blackhawks love matching strengths and weaknesses in their defensive pairings, meaning Svedberg could find a home counteracting a puck-handling defenseman like Nick Leddy with a physical force akin to Michal Rozsival. Thanks to the trade of Dylan Olsen earlier this season coupled with the Blackhawks’ desire for physical defenseman, Svedberg is nearing NHL consideration sometime in the future.
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