At the start of the 2021-22 season, few were paying attention to Frederik Dichow, who only played a handful games in Denmark during a COVID season. The goalie signing with the team that finished the previous season in a deciding overtime period to stay in Sweden’s second-tier league didn’t do much to raise that interest.
Fast forward a year and almost everyone stands with egg on their faces, including this writer, after a season for the ages when there was a strong case for Dichow to become the MVP of HockeyAllsvenskan.
The Gentle Giant. The Gnome. The Danish Wall. The Great Dane. The saying in Sweden is, ‘a beloved child has many names,’ and after last season Dichow has accrued quite a few. He led all HockeyAllsvenskan goalies who played at least 10 games in save percentage at .932 and he was fifth in goals-against average, having the top teams’ goalie tandems above him.
Scout and fellow journalist Max Strömberg Melin uses analytics in his MVP article at SvenskaFans and points out that in the 25 games Dichow played for Kristianstad, the expected goals against was 76; Dichow let 52 pucks past him. He saved close to one goal against per game more than what was expected of a netminder. Only one goalie in the NHL saved more than one expected goal per game, and that was Igor Shesterkin. (The goals-per-game averages in HockeyAllsvenskan and the NHL are more or less the same: 6.3 versus 5.9).
Dichow also played for Denmark in both the Olympics and the World Championship, with two very different outcomes. In the Olympics, he held favourites Russia to one goal, however in the World Championship Switzerland scored five goals in two periods before he was pulled. He also played five minutes of SHL hockey, serving as a backup in Rögle during the SHL playoffs.
He makes a move to Frölunda in the SHL for this season. It will be an interesting move even if it will make evaluation more difficult as he won’t be their number-one goalie.
One panellist is particularly high on Dichow, while the rest had him spread throughout the 20s. The community voters had him quite a bit lower, putting him at 29. He and the project’s 24th-ranked prospect, Emil Heineman, should some interesting duels in the SHL this season as the vie for the higher spot in 2023.
Top 25 Under 25 History
|2021: #35||2020: #37||2019: #42|
Dichow makes his debut on the official list this year, as he had been in the “long shot” category all three previous seasons, rising ever so slightly each year, from 42 to 37 to 35, and now spot number 23.
History of #23
Dichow is big, weighing in at 192 pounds and has started to fill out his 6’5” frame quite well. He moves well laterally and is relatively quick to get up even with his size. He moves side-to-side, creating an upward force, and thereby avoiding more work for his knees. This is something that should aid the longevity of his career, as many big goalies (as we don’t need to explain to Montreal Canadiens fans) can be susceptible to knee injuries down the line.
He uses his size to look around players, and doesn’t fall into the butterfly stance as eagerly as many other goalies do, staying upright with the puck in his zone. He reads the game well, and is almost like a soccer goalie directing his defence against oncoming waves.
On top of this he seems to excel in high intensity games, loving to be the centre of attention while keeping hiss focus — at least until something goes wrong.
The Danish goalie used the pandemic pause to start talking to a sports psychologist in order to become more calm and focused. That was something he had a problem with when he played in Malmö a couple of years ago. He has become more cool-headed and less prone to have a go at the defence or the referees.
It has also helped him refocus after he has let in a bad goal, as he lost focus before and often used to give up a goal directly after. It still happened twice last season, once against Switzerland in the World Championship, and once against Södertälje in HockeyAllsvenskan. In both of those games the defence had rough outings as well, and I don’t see this as a lingering problem, but rather a weakness that he has improved; it will not affect his game in a major way anymore.
As with many big young goalies, one thing that he needs to address is his rebound control. He needs to either absorb them better or make sure that he deflects them to the corners. It didn’t help that he played for a team whose defence wasn’t the strong point, and with a better group of players in front of him this might be less of a problem. It is also something that comes with experience, something that Dichow continues to accumulate.
An increased quality of practice and the possibility to develop behind one of Europe’s best goaltenders, Lars Johansson, should still allow Dichow to take a big leap forward this upcoming season. The expectation is that Dichow will play around 20 to 25 games in all competitions, and strong play could earn him more chances.
Goalie projections are virtually impossible, but all the tools are there for Dichow, and the main focus should really be on learning the trade at a higher level. Last year Kristianstad’s coach, Mikael Gath, said that Dichow “needs to become more professional.” Playing at the international level and making a move to Frölunda should be a good start along that path. The fact that Frölunda was Dichow’s favourite club growing up means that he will have some extra motivation this year.
In this episode of the Top 25 Under 25 edition of Habsent Minded, we bring in special guest Måns Karlsson, managing editor of HockeySverige, to talk about Emil Heineman and Frederik Dichow in particular.