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Simon Robertsson: 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Winger with Perhaps the Best Shot in the Draft

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Today in our prospect profiles, we take a look at a Swedish winger who arguably has the best shot in the draft. It will almost certainly help him get drafted in the first round, but where?

With the New Jersey Devils owning the Isles’ first round pick this year, thanks to the trade that sent Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to New York, it is also a benefit to look at some players who are not potential top 10 and top 5 talent. The Isles have had a really strong playoff run, and with their late pick in the first round that the Devils are getting, diving into potential late first round talent also gives us good insight on who Tom Fitzgerald might be looking at with the team’s second first rounder.

One of those possible options could be Swedish winger Simon Robertsson, so let’s take a look at him. He is really ranked all over the first round by different analysts, as high as 8 overall all the way down to the very end of the first round, with one analyst I saw not even having him in the top 32. That makes it very interesting to dive into him and see what he’s done, as no one really knows what to make of him. Is he a top 10 talent? Is he a top 20 talent? Or are we talking about the late first round, where the Devils will be taking? Let’s take a look and come to our own opinions.

Who is Simon Robertsson?

-LINK TO ELITE PROSPECTS STATS-

Robertsson is a tall forward, listed on Elite Prospects at 6 foot even and weighing 190 pounds. With that frame, he will undoubtedly be over 200 before he makes his NHL debut, giving him the size of someone who could potentially be a power forward one day. But growing up in the Swedish system, he has also been a strong point producer. Simon has ascended the ranks with the Skellefteå AIK organization, which is fairly close to his hometown of Piteå, in the north of the country. In 2018-19, as a 15/16 year old, he was playing consistent time in the J18 leagues there instead of U16, and the following year, as a 16/17 year old, he was already playing almost all of his time in J20. He has consistently moved up to the next level of hockey sooner than most other players, and the experience has paid off. He even got 8 games of SHL experience as a 17 year old in 2019-2020.

This past year, he split his time fairly evenly between J20 and the SHL, getting 15 games in J20 and another 22 in the SHL. He also had a short stay on loan in the HockeyEttan league, the third level of pro hockey in Sweden. And overall, outside of his SHL time, he has always produced well, mainly because he has a wicked shot, one of the best in this entire draft class, if not the best. In J18 in 2018-19, he had 45 points in 27 games across the Elit and Allsvenskan leagues. The following year, in J20, again as a 16/17 year old, he had 30 points in 41 games, which is excellent. This past year, on that short loan in the HockeyEttan, he had 3 points in 7 games. Really, the only place he has yet to produce is the SHL, Sweden’s top pro league and one of the top leagues in the world. Across 30 games for Skellefteå, between this past season and the one prior, he has managed only 3 points, 2 goals and an assist. But again, this comes in a professional league against men, where he was a 17/18 year old just cutting his teeth for the first time. Like when I wrote about another Swede last week, Fabian Lysell, some will take his SHL time negatively, noting how he couldn’t produce at the top level, while others will take it positively, being thrilled that he has pro experience, which will make him NHL ready sooner than many other players. This is one main reason why you see such a large spread in his draft projections within the first round. I usually tend to treat the experience positively when a player can get that SHL time in before being drafted, but not everyone agrees with that.

Robertsson has also had plenty of international experience for Team Sweden, and unlike the mixed reviews of SHL experience with poor production, everyone will see his international play as a boon in his favor. At the U18 World Juniors this past season, he had 3 goals and an assist in 7 games for the bronze medal winning Swedes, again with that awesome shot coming in handy. The year prior, at the World Hockey Challenge for U17, he had 3 points in 5 games. And in U17 International Junior competition in 2019-20, he had another 4 points in 8 games. Those are all decent numbers on those stages, playing against the likes of the Canadians, Russians, and Americans, and it will help his draft stock.

Where is Robertsson Ranked?

As I mentioned above, there is a fairly large spread of rankings for Robertsson. You will see him top 10, you will see him barely making the first round, and you will see him somewhere in the middle of that. Regardless, basically all have him as a top 5-7 Swede in this draft.

-Central Scouting’s final rankings have him as the #11 ranked European skater heading into the draft and the 5th ranked Swedish player.

-Elite Prospects ranks him lower than most, #29 overall and the 7th Swede. This would be possible for NJ’s 2nd pick in the round.

-Future Considerations, on the other hand, has him #14 overall and the 5th Swede. This is out of NJ territory unless they trade up.

-McKeen’s is more in line with Elite Prospects, ranking him #26 overall.

-Dobber Prospects is the highest on Robertsson you will see. Despite still being ranked as the 5th Swede, they have him ranked #8 overall.

-Sportsnet has him #27 overall as the 5th Swede.

-The Draft Analyst puts him #17 overall.

-The Hockey Writers ranked him #16 overall in May rankings.

-Craig Button does not have him ranked in the top 32, the only one on this list to not have him as a first rounder.

-Bob McKenzie sneaks him in as the #28 ranked player.

What Others Have Said About Robertsson

Smaht Scouting has their scouting report out on Robertsson. I definitely recommend reading the entire thing if you are interested. However, the beginning of the report sums up exactly what entices teams about him, so I will blockquote it:

It is no exaggeration to state that the Piteå product is the best shooter in the draft. Most current NHL wingers wish they had the ability to catapult a puck off their stick like Robertsson does. He is the kind of player who can pick a corner from outside the circles, but also has the power to shoot “through” a goalie.

Now, while that is huge praise, and will make any team in need of scoring (*cough*Devils*cough*) consider taking him, that isn’t even close to the end of what Smaht has to say about his shooting. Here are some other shorter quotables: “There are few skaters his age who understand net-minders so well”...”It is not rare for a goalie to never move on one of his shots through traffic, and you cannot save what you never see”...”He also has all the shots. His one-timer is lethal when set-up on the power play, his wrist shot can come from anywhere, his snap-shot has the power of most slap-shots, and he can gain real elevation on his back-hand.”

That is what teams are going to draft him for, hands down. It is what makes him a first round target, and it is what the broadcast will talk about when he gets chosen. However, there are other parts to the game of hockey, so what else does Smaht have to say?

“His grit, strength and motor mean that even if he only sees five shifts a game there is no thought of him being a junior player”...”has been inconsistent at the highest level”...”he has a well-developed two-way game”...”also a good penalty killer for his age”...”ability to create space for himself in the offensive zone and get into spots to unleash his howitzer”...”often manages to get into high danger areas with no opponent in sight”...”skating wise he moves well”...”from an agility perspective he is “okay” as well”...”the main aspect of his game that needs improvement to reach his potential is his decision making when on the puck”...”tendency to take too much time to make a play”...”his passing needs improvement from a technical perspective”...”his floor seems high given his physical gifts and two-way game.”

Overall, he likes Robertsson, and feels he should go anytime from the mid-first round on.

The Last Word on Sports is out with their take on the forward as well. Here are quotes from Ben Kerr’s scouting report on Robertsson, broken down by section.

-Skating: “very good skater. He has an excellent first step and his strides are powerful”...”good speed and acceleration but there is room to improve”...”agility and edgework are also good”...”can fight through checks and keep moving.”

-Offensive Game: “pure goal scorer. His wrist shot is excellent. It is very powerful and extremely accurate. Robertsson also has a very good release. He gets his shot off quickly”...”good slap shot and one-timer”...”also good as a playmaker. He is a good stickhandler and uses his body to protect the puck in the cycle game. He has good vision and can make accurate passes through tight passing lanes”...”generates effective zone entries.”

-Defensive Game: “could stand to work on his defensive game”...”tendency to puck watch a little”...”good when a turnover is created”...”can certainly be taught to improve his defensive game.”

-Projection and Comparison: “has the size, shot, smarts, and skating ability to succeed in the NHL. If he reaches his potential he could become a top-six winger”...”the skills he possesses can not be taught. He will need a couple more years in Sweden before he is ready to make an impact at the NHL level.”

Kerr has a stylistic comparison to Andre Burakovsky. Overall, as you would expect, he loves his offensive game and especially his shot. Feels he is a defensive liability at this point, but can be coached up there.

Dobber Prospects had an update on him, with a short little report on his game, from January, not long after he got called up to the SHL. Here is a nice paragraph about his game, from Dobber’s Nick Richard:

Robertsson is a strong skater with better straight-line speed than agility. He competes hard and forechecks effectively but his shot is what stands out at first glance. His release is deceptive, as he is able to let it go from multiple points within his shooting motion and he can hammer one-timers from the top of the circle on the powerplay. He is also a capable distributor but sometimes struggles to execute when pressured. Overall, Robertsson is a well-rounded offensive player with enough tools to be an effective NHLer even if never reaches his full potential as a top-six goal-scoring winger.

A Little Video

Here are some highlights from this past season:

Here is a shift by shift analysis from November:

Here is a scouting report from the Scouching Report:

My Take

Getting right to the point here, I think that if Robertsson falls to the Devils with their second first round pick, they should strongly consider taking him. Even with drafting Alexander Holtz and Dawson Mercer last year, they can still use more scoring. Honestly, the Devils can always use more scoring, as it is a good year when they end up as even just a middling scoring team. Robertsson has a wicked shot, perhaps the best in the draft. If you’re telling me that the Devils can get someone with the best shot in the draft in the late 20s, I think that you almost have to go for it. From what I’ve read, analysts seem to think that he has top six potential, but even if he doesn’t quite reach that, they like that his floor is high. Even if the Devils get a third line winger out of it, but someone who can produce 15 goals a season from that position, you have to be happy with that from a late first rounder. And if that is his floor...take him.

That being said, if I were to guess, I would guess that he goes before the Devils pick with the Isles first round selection. I know some people believe that he will fall to the end of the first, and it is definitely possible, but I just don’t think it will happen. Some team is going to be enraptured by this kid’s shot, and they’re going to overlook his defensive liabilities. People think he can be coached up there anyway, so it might not hinder him all that much. You’re telling me that a winger who is a plus skater, solid power play guy, and has the best shot in the draft is going to fall to the end of the first? I think it unlikely.

That being said, I do hope I am wrong and he falls into NJ’s lap there at the end of the first. I also wouldn’t be against Tom Fitzgerald looking to trade up, say, if we hit the early 20s and Robertsson is still on the board. I would be fine giving up some mid-round pick or picks to nab this guy. I don’t know about trading up to the teens, as that would be pretty expensive. However, if we’re on like pick 23 and he is out there? The price might be right.

Your Take

That is only my take, however. What do you think about Simon Robertsson? Are you high on him given his shot, or do you feel differently given his poor production in the SHL? Where do you think would be a reasonable spot for him to be taken in this year’s draft? Do you think the Devils should take him if he falls to them with their second first rounder? What about trading up a little to grab him if he starts to fall? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading another prospect profile here at AATJ!