Swedish forward Forsberg might be year away
There's no doubt Leksand center Filip Forsberg possesses a resume as one of the more dynamic draft-eligible prospects to come out of Sweden in some time.
The question is, will the 6-foot-2, 181-pound forward bring his incredible two-way game to North America next season?
"I have one more year on my contract in Sweden for Leksand, so that's what I'm aiming for right now," Forsberg told NHL.com. "I have to be ready moving away from my hometown and country. It's a big step. You have to be ready hockey-wise and social-wise."
Forsberg is extremely humble and honest, a likable and marketable prospect for any NHL club looking to bolster its offense in the early stages of the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, to be held June 22 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
Forsberg's agent in Sweden, Claus Elefalk, said he feels his 17-year-old client is at least one year away from playing regularly in the NHL.
"I would be surprised if he would be NHL-ready now," Elefalk told NHL.com. "In two years, probably. He is two years younger than [New Jersey defenseman] Adam Larsson, and Larsson just came into play this year. He's two years younger than [Colorado forward Gabriel] Landeskog.
"He probably could play [in the NHL], but only 5-10 minutes, so it's much better he stay in Sweden and play 20 minutes per game, one or two more years."
Forsberg says all the right things, so don't think for a second he wouldn't give North America a shot if his dream of playing NHL hockey was closer than some think.
"I'm playing with men back home in Sweden, so I'm used to the bigger guys, but I know the intensity is higher in North America," Forsberg said. "The smaller rink makes it even tougher, so in the beginning it might be a transition, but I think I can handle it. I'm a big player and I've used my body a little more back in Sweden, too."
Forsberg was a staple in Sweden's lineup for several international tournaments. He won a gold medal at the 2012 World Junior Championship in January and played a part in Sweden's silver-medal winning performance at the World Under-18 Championship in April, totaling five goals and seven points in six games and earning the tournament MVP.
"His greatest asset is goal scoring, the shot and his drives to the net," Elefalk said. "He's always dangerous when he's around the puck, but he's really good at all aspects of the game. He can play defense, pass the puck, works hard, finesse. Filip is very good at all things, and some things he's extra good at: Scoring and shooting."
Forsberg admits he's a natural wing, but can play center.
"I can play defense or goalie, too," he said with a grin. "I tested goalie when I was younger, but never really stuck with it."
Forsberg was No. 1 among European skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings.
"Every game I watched him play, he always scored the big goals at the right moment," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. "Whether it was in the middle of the game or in the final minute, he got it done. He's big, strong and can skate."
Forsberg (no relation to former NHL All-Star Peter Forsberg) played 43 games with Leksand in Allsvenskan, the Swedish second division, and had 8 goals, 17 points and a plus-3 rating.
"He's more of a Markus Naslund-type, but he does possess the competitive spirit of a Peter Forsberg," Elefalk said. "He might be a combination of Naslund and Forsberg. Now, they are both better than Filip, but he does have something of both of them and he shoots from the right like Mats Sundin … so I think there's a little Sundin there, too."
Forsberg can provide quality minutes on the power play and the penalty kill, and doesn't shy from blocking shots.
"He's a leader who shows by example; I would compare him to Anaheim's Corey Perry a little bit," Stubb said. "[He] has a nose for the net, and often scores the big goals. He's a creative playmaker, good skater with fine straight-ahead speed. He's a right-handed forward with an excellent shot and an effective two-way player with a great winning attitude.
“Filip's a solid puck carrier with very good puck-handling skills, mature, good size and physically strong. On top of that, he'll sacrifice himself to make the play."
Forsberg said he does have room for improvement.
"My skating," he said. "If I could add better skating to my game, I think I could be an even better hockey player, so that's what I'm trying to improve every day right now."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer