Is there a champion in the house? Liam Öhgren recently played his part in Sweden’s impressive phoenix journey in the World Juniors Under-18s’, losing the opening game to Latvia to later redeem themselves with an upset win in the final against the United States.
Yes, Sweden were outshot 51-15. And yes, it was an impressive effort by goaltender Hugo Hävelid combined with an unreal offensive efficiency. But a gold medal is a gold medal.
After a successful junior career, it is now time for Öhgren to complete the next step of his hockey journey and get drafted as a top prospect in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Date of birth: January 28, 2004
Weight: 187 lbs.
Team: Djurgårdens IF (SHL/HockeyAllsvenskan)
In a limited role with former Swedish heavyweight Djurgården, Öhgren managed to score his first-ever SHL goal after impressing heavily while playing with the minors. Next season, one would imagine his role to increase, since Djurgården managed to get themselves relegated and will have to play in HockeyAllsvenskan in 2022-23.
As you can see from his statistics, Öhgren has been playing very well against his peers, both on a national and international level. He has been at least a point-per-game player whether be it with the Swedish U18, U20 or with Djurgården’s J20 side. Thirty-three goals in 30 games combined with 25 assists in the J20 Nationell is nothing short of excellent.
So we know his offensive production is spectacular so far, but that is yet to be seen in the major leagues. Now the question will be how much of his traits look to be translatable for when he transitions into something more than a fourth-line player at the senior level.
Honestly, probably quite a bit of them. First of all, he is a well-crafted skater. He has good mechanics as well as acceleration and showed this season that he can keep up with the men in the SHL in both of those regards.
Öhgren doesn’t shy away from getting his hands dirty and getting into the gritty areas in front of the net if that’s what it takes to get the puck past the goaltender. He’s not a one-trick playmaker who circles the ice looking for the perfect scoring chance. Instead, he can make things happen by charging to the net, thereby creating difficulties for the opposing defence in a multitude of ways.
He plays a responsible and mature defensive game for his age where again, his skating comes in handy in puck battles and transitions. His offensive stats at the SHL level are skewed to the negative due to Djurgården being straight up terrible this year, leaving little opportunity for a youngster to make a considerable impact neither in the lineup nor on the scoresheet.
Öhgren projects as a middle-six/top-nine type of winger who can contribute as a complementary piece on any producing line. He also has enough smartness to be played in more of a shutdown role if necessary, which is also a reason why he is mentioned as a safe bet to make the big leagues.
In an interview with Locked on Sharks, Smaht Scouting’s Swedish scout Mikael Holm compared Öhgren to Zach Hyman. He won’t be the centerpiece to build around but as long as you surround him with quality, he can end up being pretty darn useful for an NHL team both considering work ethics and secondary scoring.
The charts from HockeyProspecting will look slightly inflated in Öhgren’s favour here since he didn’t play his entire D0-season with the men’s team, while the other three did. Forsberg, for example, was coming into the draft after a lukewarm rookie season in the Swedish second-tier; a year which ultimately made him tumble out of the top 10 on Draft day.
Öhgren has never been seen as a talent on the same level as Forsberg, so the expectations on him are more tempered. He’s done what could be expected of him, holding a semi-regular spot on a bottom feeder in the Swedish first tier while lighting it up at any given opportunity in the juniors.
Next year will be fascinating though. If Djurgården can keep their young players from moving onto greener pastures, players like Öhgren and fellow first-round hopefuls Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Noah Östlund will be building blocks as their team attempts to copy what another Swedish sleeping giant, HV71, did in HockeyAllsvenskan this season. HV71 cruised through the regular season in a rarely seen fashion before beating Umeå challenger Björklöven in the playoff finals to make sure their stint in the second tier was ephemeral.
If Öhgren is ever to develop into something resembling more of a great prospect than just a good one, this will be the ultimate test for him. HockeyAllsvenskan is by no means a bad league, but the tempo is slower than in the SHL and he should get more time to further refine his offensive game against lesser opponents.
Elite Prospects: #16
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #23
NHL Central Scouting: #8 (European Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #25
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #16
As a dynamic producer in the J20’s, he has demonstrated a willingness to adapt to what offensive role is needed from his team. Öhgren is as comfortable a shooter as a passer, meaning he can be an adaptable jigsaw piece on an offensive line. However, herein lies his problem as well. His lack of elite traits makes him more likely to be looked upon as a Grade B type of prospect.
Barring injuries, Öhgren will be an NHL player. Since he is solid in most facets of the game, he will certainly end up having a productive career. But if you are a team with a selection in the teens of the first round, you may want to bet on a player with a higher ceiling rather than one who is safe and sound but lacks significant upside.