In order to be eligible for a year’s NHL Draft, the player must be born before September 15 of that year. This means they need to be 18 to be eligible for their first contract of that year regardless of whether they are offered an entry level contract or not. What this also means is that not all prospects are in the same spot in terms of development. Some are “old” as they were born just after September 16 or in October, putting them closer to 19 when they get picked. For the truly talented prospects, this does not matter. No one cared that Alex Ovechkin was one of the oldest prospects in 2004; he was going #1 anyway. For the prospects picked later on, their age could make a bit of difference in determining whether they have a little more room to grow or not. This is not to say that all late picks should be those born later in the year, but it is a plus. And it is a hallmark of today’s prospect being profiled: Leksands IF winger Felix Unger Sörum.
Who is Felix Unger Sörum?
Felix Unger Sörum was born on September 14, 2005 per his Elite Prospects profile. Yes, a day before the cut off for this year’s draft class. This means he started the 2022-23 season as a 16-year old and played the bulk of it as a 17 year old. Sörum is actually from Tondhelm in Norway. However, he clearly moved onto Sweden at a young age and joined Leksands IF’s system. He is currently listed at 5’11”, 172 pounds, he shoots right, and he only has a junior contract.
Sörum’s EP page shows an early rise up the youth ranks relative to his age. He started playing and producing with the U-18 team as a 16 year old in 2021-22 and did so well that he played 18 games with the U-20 team in 2021-22. In this past season, he played just a handful of games - playoffs and two season games - with the U-18s as he primarily played with the Leksands U-20 squad. Sörum did so well that he received 7 appearances with the main team at the SHL level. On top of that, Sörum got to represent the three crowns on the national team for the first time. He participated for Sweden’s U-18 team at the World Junior A Challenge, an U-19 tourney, as well as the World Under-18 Championships where Sweden took silver. He played quite a bit in this past season in multiple environments.
More importantly, he played quite well in most of those environments. With the Leksands U-18 team, he put up three goals and four points in two appearances in their season and three goals and six points in five playoff games. Sörum mostly played with the U-20 squad for the club with 42 season games and 7 playoff games. He put up 10 goals and 36 assists in the season, which put him in a tie for 15th in league scoring and third on his team in scoring. As for the playoffs, Sörum put up four goals and nine points in seven playoff games. Unfortunately, Leksands IF U-20s lost in the finals of their tourney. It was still a very good season for Sörum. As for Sörum’s SHL debut, it was not much to write home about. He made 7 appearances with an average ice time of 2:10. He had two shots on net, no points, and presumably the 17-year old was sent back to the U-20s.
But Sörum would find honors internationally. At the 2022 World Junior A Challenge, Sweden’s U-18 squad finished third and Sörum was in a tie with Tom Willander and Zeb Forsfjäll for the team’s lead in scoring (2 goals, 2 assists, 6 games). At the 2023 World Under-18 Championships, Sweden took the Silver as the Americans came back to win in overtime. Sörum put up two goals and eight assists to finish third on the team in scoring. Only first-round talents Axel Sandin-Pellikka and Otto Stenberg produced more points. Sörum played a significant role with an average ice time of 17:49 and put up 17 shots whilst feeding Stenberg and David Edstrom. The World U-18s Championship gets scouted well and I am sure plenty are more familiar with the name Felix Unger Sörum.
Where is Felix Unger Sörum Ranked?
The World U-18 Championships certainly helped give Sörum some attention given he was largely killing it in the Swedish youth leagues last season. That said, how he is seen is all over the place.
- #57 European skaters - NHL Central Scouting (Final Ranking)
- #85 - Elite Prospects (Final ranking, obtained from his profile page)
- #53 - Craig Button, TSN (May 15, 2023 ranking)
- #68 - FC Hockey (Final - June 3, 2023 ranking)
- #80 - Gabriel Foley, Recruit Scouting (Final ranking)
- #73 - Smaht Scouting (Final ranking)
- #79 - The Hockey Writers - Peter Baracchini (Final - June 1, 2023 ranking)
- #66 - The Hockey Writers - Logan Horn (June 14, 2023 ranking)
- #92 - Chris Peters, FloHockey (June 1, 2023 ranking)
- #37 - Dobber Prospects (Final - June 10, 2023 ranking)
Some of these rankings just make me raise an eyebrow. Dobber Prospects’ ranking is incredibly high as 37 means they see him as an early to middle second round selection. Central Scouting Services’ people in Sweden absolutely did not like what they saw from Sörum. A 57th ranking among European skaters suggests he may not be worth drafting. Those are the extremes.
The ones in between are a bit more grounded in reality. Craig Button was the only one to rank him inside the second round in his post World U-18 Championship rankings. However, FC Hockey’s and Logan Horn’s ranks are just shy of the #64 cut off for the second round so I think they would not mind if he was picked late there. The rest seem to be a mish-mash between high third rounder - such as Smaht Scouting to go with FC Hockey and Horn - and later third rounder - as we see from Foley, Peters, and EP’s own staff. This kind of variation suggests that there are things about the player that they like but there are some concerns. Let us learn what they and others had to say about the player to find out what those could be.
What Others Say About Felix Unger Sörum
The rankings of Felix Unger Sörum range. One of the lower rankings came from Gabriel Foley of Recruit Scouting. Here is his blurb about the player, who he ranked at 80th:
I love how… coy?… of a player that Unger Sorum is. He’s slick and makes incredibly deceptive passes. It’s a fun style that makes him a constant threat, especially when combined with as agile of skating as he has. But he does have a tendency to look lost at times, particularly if play isn’t moving towards any one goal. He’ll be interesting to follow, as we learn if just being “nifty” is enough to get to the NHL.
You do not really see the word “coy” enough these days. While this is a short summary, it does hint to Foley’s larger point. Yes, Unger Sörum can skate and dish the puck well, but will it translate to the next level? Along with the rest of his game? Foley seems uncertain and, as such, he ranked him 80th.
At the opposite end are the people at Dobber Prospects. He was ranked 37th in their final list, which would place him early in the second round. Sebastian High wrote up the justification for this rather high ranking for the player. Here are the important takeaways from that mini-essay:
In the SHL, he played a conservative defence-first style that quickly gained the trust of his coaches, limiting the length of his puck touches and playing a mature give-and-go game with flashes of pace.
In the J20, Unger Sörum shone brightly as a playmaker, consistently sending pucks to the slot and creating passing lanes through coverage. At his best, he is a top 15 playmaker in this draft class in my own estimation. He gains separation from his opponents with frequent delays in his rushes, quick turns, and – increasingly – with give-and-go’s. While his style needs to evolve a bit to project to the North American pro game (eg. grow a goalscoring threat, up the pace consistently, and double down on the playmaking skill),
Whereas Foley was not convinced of the player’s future, High and the Dobber Prospects staff are believers. I do appreciate the separation between his SHL and U-20 play as he was clearly used very differently in both environments. I do not know how much trust I would put into the SHL commentary given how little he played there, but the observation that he can adjust to something more measured after dishing and driving in U-20 play is a good one. And, again, the praise for the passing is there. I do not know if being a big believer in his future is enough to think he could go early in the second round, but that’s the opinion of Dobber Prospects’ staff.
Speaking of Dobber Prospects, their page for Felix Unger Sörum contains two observations from April from High and Luke Sweeney. High’s observations gives a mix of the player’s strengths - passing and skating - and weaknesses, which would be his puck handling. You can see from High’s write up how he concluded what he did in the rankings. Sweeney’s observations follow suit:
April 2023 – Unger Sorum is another Swedish player this year who has performed at a high level in the J-20 (46 points and 10 goals in 42 games) and earned a look at the SHL level. Unger Sorum was able to demonstrate his versatile game at the pro level, showing his smarts, his ability to find the slot, and his tenacity. Against J20 competition, his playmaking shone very brightly and could unlock a higher offensive ceiling in his game. His ability to handle pro-level physicality at 17 bodes well for a future NHL middle-six role.
Sweeney, like High, sees his short time in the SHL as a plus for his future. Again, he did not play much so I do not know how much I trust it. But knowing he handled the physical play in the men’s league is a plus considering Unger Sörum is not a big dude.
The people at Smaht Scouting ranked Felix Unger Sörum in between both extremes. At 73rd, it is closer to Foley than Dobber Prospects. Still, the write up for the ranking by Alex Appleyard is rather complementary for someone given a third round ranking. Here is the main part to read from what he wrote:
The main this that jumps out about his game is his play-making. Not only does he have a wonderful, deft touch to his passing, he can also pick out line-mates from virtually anywhere on ice. Furthermore, for a player who is pass first, he does a lot of damage from the slot, and does not mind going to high-danger areas. He is also very creative with the puck on his stick, and for such a skilled player works very hard in his own zone. His upside is likely a second-liner in the NHL. However, to get there he needs to improve his release, as it sometimes takes him too much time to get shots away, and also work on his skating, as his stride lacks power and drive.
Appleyard’s summary backs up the notion that Unger Sörum can definitely pass the puck well and he is smart with it. Where he differs from others cited so far is that he thinks his puck handling is good. Or at least not so bad to be an issue. Instead, Appleyard notes that Unger Sörum’s shot needs work. Which I can appreciate. A difference between a good passer and a good playmaker is that a playmaker knows when the better play is to fire the puck. Should it be true that Unger Sörum’s shot is not threatening, then that will hinder his offense in the future. That said, I do appreciate Appleyard’s direct statements about the player. He will look to pass and passing the puck is his best strength.
To close out this section, look at Logan Horn’s profile of Felix Unger Sörum at The Hockey Writers. Horn wrote it up on May 29, 2023. Horn’s assessment of the player appears to be more in line with what High wrote at Dobber Prospects, including praise for his short time in the SHL:
Against his peers, Unger Sörum is a dominant playmaker who makes a remarkable amount of passes into the slot/homeplate area of the offensive zone, setting his teammates up for great scoring chances regularly. He’s an intelligent offensive player, capable of extending plays with great off-puck movement and constantly scanning the play around him for advantages. He doesn’t have the dynamic skill ceiling to be a top-six winger in the NHL, but his playmaking is a strong enough offensive tool that he will likely produce points well as a pro.
When playing in the SHL, Unger Sörum has looked like a shut-down force on the wing, allowing very little offense to his opponents with his smarts and effort. He anticipates opposing forwards’ moves wonderfully and is rarely caught out of position defensively. If his offensive game doesn’t translate to the pro level over the next couple of years, Unger Sörum will still provide a ton of value as a defense-first player, especially considering that his defensive game will only get better as he continues to grow into his 5-foot-11 frame.
Again, I do not doubt what Horn (or anyone else in this section) observed. Still, his SHL time was 7 games where he averaged fewer than 3 minutes per game. What shut-down force could be there for a handful of shifts? Anyway, should it hold up with more ice time, then I can agree with Horn’s assessment that Unger Sörum could still provide value off the puck and that could be how he makes it to higher levels in hockey. Horn adds more praise to the player’s passing and intelligence with the puck. I liked that he noted his play off the puck on offense. I raised an eyebrow where Horn wrote that Unger Sörum’s skating was just average and could use improvement. That definitely differed from what others have written about the player. The shot needing work and questions about his offense translating were elsewhere, but that was new.
I wonder if all four of these people saw Unger Sörum at different points outside of the World U-18 Championships. That may explain some of the differences. Based on the similarities, the headline for this post is backed up. Felix Unger Sörum is indeed a young passer. And someone with a real NHL future if things work out and he does indeed develop further after he turns 18 in September.
A Little Video
There really is not much in the way of video of Felix Unger Sörum. Felix Unger of The Odd Couple? Absolutely. The 17-year old Swedish hockey prospect? No. So enjoy this: Can Felix Unger Sörum get his Mike Legg on and do a Michigan? He did so last year with the U-20s.
Other than that, all I could find is David St-Louis of Elite Prospects talking about him for a minute earlier this month. St-Louis stated that the EP staff thinks he plays a European style of game (which makes sense, he plays in Sweden), he’s good at distribution but could be better at holding onto the puck for making plays. St-Louis thinks he could stand to carry the puck better. While he likes how he moves the puck when he has space, he does not think the skills will translate like others - which explains EP’s low ranking of the player. In other words, his opinion meshes with Foley’s and Appleyard’s more than High’s and Sweeney’s. So there is that.
An Opinion of Sorts
To reference a former prospect enthusiast in the public field, Will Scouch, there are some prospects that are worth taking a swing on. Prospects who may have flaws and/or questions about whether their skills will translate to professional leagues but still have one or two things about them that make them worth the risk. Granted, just about every prospect has an issue or a question about whether they will make it. But given where the New Jersey Devils are drafting, these are more obvious. The prospects available are likely going to be a mish-mash of guys who can do a lot of things well but nothing spectacular and guys who stand out in one or two areas but need time and work elsewhere in their game. Felix Unger Sörum is one of the second types with his passing and intelligence on the ice. And I think he could be worth a swing in the second or third round.
What makes the risk worth it in my eyes is that he is still young. Eleven months does not seem like much for most players, but it is for prospects at this age. For example, Guelph’s Cam Allen looked like he was going to be the top defenseman of this draft after the 2022 Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament. One awful season showed Allen picked up a lot of bad habits and there are so many concerns about his game such that Allen may not be picked within the first two rounds. Obviously, that is in the reverse but just as a prospect can stall out over eleven months, they can grow. Should this happen for Unger Sörum, he can emerge as a serious find outside of the first round in the 2023 NHL Draft.
And there are signs that this could happen. He already made his SHL debut and likely will get more looks with Leksands IF in 2023-24. While I doubt the meaning of those minutes, if he showed he can be responsible already at that level, then that bodes well for doing more as he gets more experience. He represented his nation well, especially at the World U-18 Championships with two of Sweden’s best forwards in this year’s draft class. He showed he can hang with talented players on his national team and play against the talented players of other nations. He’s even on a junior contract so he may be able to be signed quickly and loaned back to Sweden to develop, giving the drafted team some control over the player early instead having to wait. These are positive signs to go with some legitimately desirable skills such as passing the puck and making good decisions on and off the puck. Does he need to work on other aspects like his shot, puck handling, and maybe even skating? Sure. But those are workable to a point and the things he is good at already can be valuable later.
This is a long way of saying that I would like the Devils to take a swing on Felix Unger Sörum. If not at 58th overall then definitely at 80th if he is available by then. And even more definitely beyond there.
Quite possibly the youngest prospect available in the 2023 NHL Draft, Felix Unger Sörum could end up being a good addition to a team’s draft class. His passing skills and his accomplishments already made while just 17 years old are good reasons why I want the New Jersey Devils to pick him. I want to know what you think about him. What did you like reading about Unger Sörum? What did you not like reading about him? Regardless of what I think, would you want the Devils to take a chance on him at all in the 2023 NHL Draft? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Felix Unger Sörum in the comments. Thank you for reading.