A lot of times, elite forwards come in the first round of the draft like Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, and Alex Ovechkin. Sometimes you get one that falls to the last round like Joe Pavelski (7th Round, 205th Overall) and even less often, you get a guy that falls out of the draft completely like Tyler Johnson. But sometimes people forget the seemingly obvious fact that the second round is the second best round. A lot feel that there is the 1st round and then the other 6. But the second round has a significantly higher success rate than the later rounds. A 2nd rounder is twice as likely to play an NHL game as a 5th rounder and over 3 times more likely to play 100. Team centerpieces like Patrice Bergeron, James Neal, and Paul Stastny and others (Read: Derek Stepan), are found in the 2nd round quite often. So if the Devil's draft a guy named Filip Ahl in the second round, don't think he can't be a cornerstone.
Who Is Filip Ahl?
Almost every writeup I found on this guy described him as hulkish. This comes from the fact that he is a 6'4'' 217lb winger from the Swedish Junior League who was able to match up physically with the the pros he played with for 15 games in the SHL. His stats from are below
Nice to see those 15 games in the SHL for a 17-year-old. He didn't play a lot of minutes so don't be too discouraged by the lack of point production. It's nice to see the "A"s implying he has some experience in a leadership role. It's also nice to see the point-per-game production in playoffs when it matters most. The penalty minutes is also indicative of the type of game he plays. As you'll here from multiple outside sources in the next section, Ahl is a bruiser who lacks top end speed, but protects the puck well, has good hockey sense, a laser shot, and is already an elite forchecker.
What Are Others Saying About Ahl?
Shawn Reznik from The Hockey Writers:
Exceptional stickhandling allows the young Swede to create time to get around defenders, oftentimes dishing the puck off to an open teammate for a goal. He takes risks with his passing, but he typically gets the puck to where it needs to be.
Bullish on his skates, Ahl is strong, sturdy, and displays great balance, but could use some extra speed and acceleration overall. He scores as well as he sets up plays and possesses a devastating release when he finds an open lane.
Nice to see that he is not a 6'4'' butterfly. He's go the body of a gamer and he shows it. He doesn't have blazing speed, but 1: you wouldn't either if you were 217lbs, and 2: you don't need out skate people if you just skate over them. "Devastating release" is also a nice phrase for appeasing Devils fans. They also compare him to Blake Wheeler in the link.
Shane O'Donnell from Future Considerations quoting Scouting Director Dan Stewart:
For a big forward, Ahl is surprisingly mobile and has good lateral movement along the ice to free him up to unleash his explosive shot.
Stewart tells us that Ahl’s shot is "a very hard shot that on more than one occasion has seen a goalie ducking to get out of the way of it."
With that type of size, speed, and shot, it should come as no surprise to us that Ahl is fourth in the J20 league in scoring despite being only 17 years old. Even though he is only 17, the winger uses his size to his advantage when playing against older competition, and is "at his best when he plays physical", says Stewart.
More on that homicidal shot of his. I haven't personally been able to see it at full force, but the tales being told about it make it sound like The Truth 2.0. The "surprisingly mobile" is also somewhat relieving after hearing so much of "lacks top end speed."
Bill Placzek at Draftsite
Hulking pro-sized wing with an explosive shot that jumps off his blade. Just starting to develop a strong stride and with it much better acceleration. Regardless he is very strong on his skates and a soft passer and playmaker. Still needs to keep his feet moving at both ends, is good on the cycle and stick handles out nicely to get loose and let that big shot go. He beats defenseman with surprising East-West agility. You do want to see a bit more intensity more urgency away from the puck in his end, and use of that big body on the wall with more edginess, but there’s lots to like as he develops his all-around game.
Nice to here he is improving in he weakest spot, acceleration. It sounds like he could definitely work on a few other things as well though. It's okay for a 2nd rounder though because that effort and urgency can be taught. You can't teach a laser shot, a hulkish body, and surprising "East-West agility"
Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects
A competitive winger who skates with good balance, using his large frame to establish his presence through physical play, and shields the puck exceptionally well. His offensive prowess is exhibited through his use of the neutral zone to pick up speed and momentum, his fine puckhandling ability, and his dominance on the forecheck
The "uses neutral zone to pick up speed" clarifies that poor acceleration and speed references from earlier. He can take it down the ice and make an individual effort to put it in the back of the net, but he'll do it by being strong on the puck.
Jakub Nystrom from Hockeysverige via Google Translate
HV's best player during the season with some playtime in the SHL in the spring and done well. However, he ended up in limbo between senior and junior hockey, which meant that the game has become a bit of suffering in the spring. Large and powerful in his game, which means that he is good at to cover the puck. Surprisingly good hands and ice skating which is not usually common among larger players.
The last sentence was what I liked. Yet another person to mention that he's not just a big body and he moves surprisingly well and has a great stick for someone who is so large.
If someone has another video, I'd be willing to post it after the fact, but this is the only one I could find. Relax, it's still pretty awesome. It's a video of two just great passes that Ahl makes for his first two SHL points. Reminder, this is against professionals. This is the major league hockey in Sweden:
That'll do Swede. That'll do.
An Opinion of Sorts
It's tough to say whether I would be excited about Ahl or not. If we get one of the smaller guys in the first round like Mat Barzal or Mitch Marner then it might be a nice compliment to have a nice big forward who still offers the offensive potential that Ahl has. Many people, including me earlier in this article, will point out how hi deficiencies are all fixable. Yet I can't help but be bothered by his lack of activity off-the-puck. I hate when players need the puck to be useful and while he can certainly work on that and would be forced to in the Devils system, its just one more reason to pick someone else in the 2nd round. There are more talented players available.
You want him? What if he fell to the 3rd? Do you know something about him I don't that you'd like to share. Have at it ILWTers!