Sven Andrighetto is the definition of a late bloomer. He was taken in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft, 86th overall. The late bloomer part comes from the 2013 draft being his third and final year of draft eligibility. Being overlooked for that long could be due to his size. At 5'9" Andrighetto is undersized for the NHL but his offensive ability has many willing to overlook the lack of size and strength.
My first introduction to him was in the home opener for Hamilton last season. His hands and incredible shot were on full display and he quickly established himself as the most talented Bulldog in the attacking end of the ice.
He started the year primarily confined to the Bulldogs third line, most often with Joonas Nattinen and Erik Nystrom. An injury kept him out of the lineup for about a month but once he returned he linked up with Christian Thomas finding a consistent partner on his opposite wing and the two rotated through centres spending the most time with Martin St. Pierre.
Andrighetto finished second behind St. Pierre in the scoring for the Dogs, though had he not missed a month he most likely would have led the team in his rookie season. Expect him to come back this season and post higher totals playing the full season with Thomas and most likely centred by new signing T.J. Hensick.
Our panel was fairly consistent with all the votes coming between 5 and 13. Sven unsurprisingly ends up as the highest ranked Bulldogs forward. In his jump from 26th last year to 8th this year Andrighetto moved over many forwards including his linemate Thomas, disappointing teammate Patrick Holland and talented junior scorers Tim Bozon and Martin Reway.
He can do this.
He has incredibly soft hands and his shot is a laser beam. His slick hands have the ability to put most defencemen on their heels, resulting in a plethora of scoring chances. His vision is excellent and his passing ability rivals his magnificent wrist shot.
Andrighetto is not only blessed with a fantastic name, but he possesses a fair amount of speed, as he was usually one of the fastest Bulldogs on the ice. This gives him the ability to stretch opposing defense pairings, creating time and space for his line mates.
Despite his small size he did not look out of place against the bigger AHL defensemen. He was rarely manhandled by larger opponents and seemed to have a knack for getting out of bad situations and avoiding the big hit. Defensively he isn't spectacular but he is rarely caught out of place and works hard to be in the right positions. His defensive acumen shouldn't be considered a strength, but it's definitely not a weakness.
He's small and because of that he's not a very strong player. When tightly checked he could be knocked off the puck more often than not. He has excellent hands but without time and space he has difficulty using them to create chances.
He also has a tendency to hold on to the puck longer than he should, part of that seemed to be that he didn't always trust his linemates and would try to do everything himself.
Right now Andrighetto is a top line AHL foward, with the potential to put up 30+ goals and 80+ points. His natural talent could see him get as high as a top six forward in the NHL but his size means that he may not get that chance.
His chance to make the NHL is probably in a similar role to Michael Bournival but chances are he won't thrive in that role as he is at his best when playing with players who are also offensively minded and getting a decent amount of powerplay time.
My projection is that he will spend the entire season in Hamilton with a couple scattered call-ups due to injury throughout the year but never sticking longer than the injury lasts.
Long term I think he will find a way to earn a top six spot, and establish himself as a solid 20 goal, 60 point player.