Technically the first member of our first round projections, Carl Grundström is a personal favourite of mine, and not just because of what names came out of the similarity model (although that helped – more on that later). Grundström is a Swedish two-way winger who plays what might be considered a Canadian style of game. He bangs and crashes, but he can back it up with some soft hands and an impressive shot.
- Age: 18 (December 1st, 1997)
- Birthplace: Umeå, SWE
- Frame: 6′ 0″, 194 lbs
- Position: LW
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: MODO
- Accomplishments/Awards: TV-Pucken Gold Medal (2011-12); TV-Pucken Most Goals, 10 (2012-13); J18 SM Gold Medal (2013-14); J20 SuperElit Most Goals, 13 (2014-15)
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A spirited and energetic banging winger who off the puck is a nightmare to guard against. Grundstrom is a relentless forechecker who uses his strong build and powerful lower body to frighten defenders into careless mistakes. If there was ever a player to excuse for the constant dump and chase, it’s Grundstrom, whose international resume for Team Sweden is beyond impressive when considering his nation’s lack of elite scoring up front at the junior level. His skill set may resemble that of a grinder, but he’s displayed flash and skill in the limited time he received with MoDo.
He’s a very good skater in terms of mobility and balance, but he lacks breakaway speed. Grundstrom has quick feet and can create separation with his first step, but it takes him a while to reach top speed. Still, this does not impede his ability to press and battle in a timely manner, as his instincts and positioning are excellent. Grundstrom has an above-average shot that he likes to fire from all areas and angles, sometimes to a fault, as you’d like to see him be a little more patient and creative with the disc. But he’s a power forward who likes to use his body, so expect him to use those strengths to generate offense rather than fancy his way onto the scoresheet. He can also be undisciplined at times, but a solid depth option with discernible NHL upside nonetheless.
Carl Grundström recently finished his season in the SHL playing for the legendary MODO hockey club, the Sweden team that once employed the Sedin twins, Markus Naslund, Peter Forsberg, Thomas Gradin, Alex Steen and many more. Grundström played 49 games in the SHL this season, which is impressive enough for a player his age. However, he also played 24 games there last year as a 16/17-year old, which is even better. He scored seven goals and added nine assists this season, and put up another four points in seven playoff games. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to help MODO survive relegation, as the once great club will be playing in the tier 2 league, Allsvenskan, next year.
Grundström plays a game that mixes both skill and power. He’s listed at nearly 200 pounds, and while he doesn’t use his size to intimidate opponents, he’s certainly not afraid to throw his weight around. He’s a ferocious forechecker and plays hard in the corners. He has a bit of a “Canadian game”, for lack of a better term, and his skill set is well suited for a bottom six role in the current NHL. That said, he’s got the offensive talent to shift a bit up the lineup if need be.
Grundström is a volume shooter, and his shot itself is well above average. He averaged 1.76 shots on net per game over the course of the season, and he had at least one shot on net in 23 of his last 24 games. The numbers aren’t overwhelming, but certainly look more impressive in the context that he only averaged a bit under 14 minutes a night.
The pGPS model found 45 statistical matches for Grundström, with 17 of them going on to play at least 200 NHL games for a score of 37.8 per cent, the likelihood of success you might expect from a draft pick in the area of 26 to 40 or so (note: two other matches, Anton Lander and Calle Jarnkrok, are likely to hit the 200 game mark as well).
By both games played and points, Grundströmès most successful match is none other than Daniel Sedin. Although he has considerably less pedigree surrounding him and their styles do not match up, there’s still some warm fuzzy feelings there. The catch is the matching Sedin season is Daniel’s draft-1 year, in which he scored 13 points in 45 SHL games. Other successful matches include Loui Eriksson, Alex Steen, Frans Nielsen, and Jakob Silfverberg.
Considering his style of play, Grundström might be considered a “safe” bet, given that if his offence doesn’t translate, he still has the style and body type to thrive as a bottom six NHL player. And if his offence does click, then he could prove to be a very valuable two-way player. It’s a good bet to make, given that decreasing risk and increasing reward is what drafting is all about.