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Emil Andrae: 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile | A High-Upside Small Defenseman with Some Defensive Chops

Emil Andrae is a defender who played most of this past season in Sweden’s SuperElit and led the league in scoring among defensemen. His size raises some question marks, but strength and solid defensive instincts seem to make up for it. Could he be a second round sleeper for someone?

Who is Emil Andrae?

Emil Andrae is a Swedish defenseman currently with the HV71 organization who split time between the SHL and top Swedish junior league, SuperElit in 2019-20. Andrae is typically considered one of the top-10 defensemen available in this draft with some even placing him among the top-five. Born February 23, 2002, Andrae is in the middle of the age range for this year’s draft but at 5’-9” and 183 pounds, he is definitely small for a defenseman. By the numbers, you can see how Andrae has gathered some attention for himself as blueliner. He put up nearly a point per game from the blue line in the SuperElit this season, leading the league in points among defensemen with 38 in 40 games. Only fellow draft-eligibles Helge Grans and Anton Johannesson outpaced him in points-per game (among defensemen with 20+ GP), though they did it in about 23 and 12 of the games, respectively. Andrae also put up strong numbers playing with Sweden’s U18 team in 2019-20 with 12 points in 13 games, including a four-assist performance in five games at last summer’s Hlinka Tournament. Full career stats from Elite Prospects are shown below.

Stats via Elite Prospects

As a player, Andrae comes across as highly talented, but not necessarily a strictly offensive defenseman. His stature at 5’-9” will generally lead to the assumption that he’s a finesse player, but based on the reports on his play, he seems to have strong instincts at both ends of the ice and the lower body strength to overcome the height factor. He got 10 games with the HV71 big club in the SHL, which is encouraging, but he also got very limited minutes in those appearances so the conclusions that can be drawn are mostly limited to “he was at least good enough to get the call-up.” He is reportedly a strong skater with good agility on his skates, but also the stability to stand his ground and hang onto pucks. His playmaking is highly touted both on the rush and in the offensive zone and while his shot isn’t booming, he can reportedly locate it well. At the other end, his strength and instincts make him a capable defender, at least at the junior level.

Where is Andrae Ranked?

Emil Andrae fits into a certain category of divisive player among those in charge of putting out rankings. That is the “is he too small?” category. Some have him going in the first round. Other rankings fit him in much later, including Bob McKenzie’s consensus ranking from scouts, which has him outside of the top 62. Everyone’s mileage may vary on this, but guys perceived as too small in some circles frequently represent a way to get great value from a pick, especially as you exit the first round where most of the guys who have both size and high-end skill will be off the board early.

#15 — NHL Central Scouting - European Skaters (Final)

NR (Top 31) — McKeen’s Hockey (Final; #29 Midterm)

#47 — Future Considerations (March)

#20 — The Draft Analyst (March)

NR (Top 62) — TSN-MacKenzie (Midseason)

#31 — (April)

#58 — TSN-Button (March)

NR (Top 31) — (January)

NR (Top 31) — ISS Hockey (March)

What Others are Saying About Emil Andrae

Starting off, we’ll go to Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst. Kournianos is thorough as ever in his profile of Andrae and he definitely thinks highly of his upside as a prospect. Andrae gets most of his props as an offensive defenseman in both profiles, but Kournianos likes the way he plays defense in spite of being undersized on the blueline. First though, is this bit on his playmaking and elusiveness on the puck:

Andrae possesses elite puck skills and put him in the running for the most impressive among all 2020 draft-eligible defensemen. He is an excellent playmaker; one whose teammates clearly rely on to produce high-danger chances either off the rush or cycle. Andrae’s footwork is a critical component to his playmaking, as he uses stutter steps or multiple fakes in any direction to leave pressure in the dust as he makes a beeline for open ice.

And on his defense:

Andrae is a beyond poised on the breakout but also when being pressured in his own end and his back is to the wall. He is reliable one-on-one defender with a short gap who looks to deliver hits and battle hard for positioning. The measurements may look like they’re describing a finesse “offenseman”, but Andrae has a very high compete level and it shows in the way he continues to fight for pucks and uses his lower-body strength and rapier-like stick thrusts to neutralize an opponent on the puck.

A lot to like about Andrae in Kournianos’ profile, and while the size is no-doubt going to be a knock on Andrae in a lot of circles, it’s good to see that he has some defensive chops in spite of it.

Moving along, we go to a profile from Matt Cosman at The Hockey Writers, who has similar praise for Andrae’s overall game. Here’s an excerpt on his ability to run an offense from the point:

In the offensive zone, Andrae mans the point well with quick lateral movement, all while keeping his head up, drawing defenders away, and finding the open man. His shot could use some work, but he has a particularly quick snap to his shots and passes that can catch defenders off guard. He collects most of his points by using his vision and dexterity to sift shots through traffic for tips and rebounds, or send pucks into areas where his teammates can pick up tap-ins.

Cosman also characterizes Andrae as a “surprisingly good defender” so, again, while the offense is the draw, he doesn’t seem like a guy who is lost in his own end, which makes him attractive as an option in the late-first and early-second-round range.

I think the impression that you get in reading about Andrae is that he is a smart player that has good instincts at both ends of the ice. To that end, we go to Dobber Prospects’ profile of Andrae, where I think this excerpt from Jokke Nevalainen highlights the different ways that he thinks the game well:

He is a great passer who can start breakouts with short and long passes, and he is also very strong in the offensive zone. Even though he doesn’t own a heavy shot, he’s good at getting shots to the net and sneaking in close enough to score with his good wrist shot. He is a very creative player who can execute plays that most players can’t even think of. Although an offense-minded player, he is also surprisingly good defensively, especially with his active stick.

Overall, I think it’s pretty clear that Andrae is a very capable prospect, and while his size does present a question mark for his game that teams will need to contend with, there is plenty in the descriptions of his game to overcome that and be effective.

A Little Video

This isn’t the most scintillating video, but footage is a bit limited for SuperElit. It gives a look at what Andrae (#65) brings to the ice. Here, he makes good, quick decisions with the puck and doesn’t panic when he’s in close quarters. He facilitates very well and keeps plays moving while looking for scoring opportunities.

An Opinion of Sorts

This is partially my own biases and preferences at work here, but Andrae has a little bit of a sleeper feel to me and I think someone who grabs him in the second round could end up very pleased with their decision. The size factor is definitely of some concern, but he doesn’t seem like a he’s just a finesse guy, and while I think he’s unlikely to turn into a shutdown blueliner at 5’-9”, a combination of strength and good instincts can make up for a lot. His playmaking ability seems very good and he also doesn’t seem like a guy who is getting caught overcommitting and cheating too much to make that offensive game work. If the Devils move their way into the 30-40 range by way of trades on draft day, I think Andrae could be on my list of guys I’d like to see selected there for New Jersey.

Your Take

What are your thoughts on Emil Andrae? Is he a guy you think could be good value somewhere in the second round? Is he a guy you’d prefer to stay away from given his size? Somewhere in between? Comment below with your thoughts and thanks for reading.