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Filip Bystedt: 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile; A Sizeable Swedish Center

Filip Bystedt is a big center with a strong 2-way game. While his size and all-around game make him an attractive pick, does he have the upside commensurate with his draft ranking?

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Today’s AATJ draft profile will provide an in-depth overview of a big Swedish center with good production at the Swedish junior level. His play at the J20 level was good enough to earn him some SHL experience, albeit in a limited role. Bystedt is the type of player who will likely appeal to traditional hockey minds as a perfectly safe 2nd round pick. He’s touted as a large center who plays a solid 200-foot game and can chip in some offense. Let’s learn more about him.

Who is Filip Bystedt?

According to his Elite Prospects profile, Filip Bystedt was born on February 4th, 2004 in Linköping, Sweden. He is listed as 6’4”, 187 lbs on Elite Prospects, however there is a discrepancy in regards to his height, as NHL.com lists him as 6’2”. I am not sure where the error is, but we’ll find out soon enough at the NHL combine, assuming Bystedt attends, since prospects are weighed and measured (figuratively and literally) at this event. Regardless, size is a big asset for the left-shot center.

Bystedt has the good fortune (or misfortune, I suppose, depending on how you feel about it) to have played his club hockey exclusively for his hometown team, Linköping HC. The Swedish pivot has steadily worked his way up the ranks over the last several years, and made his SHL debut in the 2020-21 season, appearing in one game. Bystedt has a history of producing well for his team over the last several years and is usually among his club’s top scorers, which is the norm for a player who will likely be drafted. This past season, Bystedt split his time mostly between Linköping HC’s J20 squad and the SHL. At the J20 level, Bystedt really excelled. He finished the season with 49 points (16-33-49) in 40 games and had another 10 points in 8 playoff games (1-9-10), both marks led his team. In addition to spending time at the J20 level, Bystedt managed to play 15 SHL games where he averaged just 8:25 per game (via SHL.se), notching a goal and an assist. Bystedt didn’t just play for his club team this season however, he also earned some time with team Sweden in international competition, where he had 5 goals and 5 assists in 9 games to go with an additional 2 goals and an assist in 6 games at the U18 world championships this past April.

Any profile you read on Bystedt will immediately bring up his size. That seems to be his main standout quality. Aside from being really tall, Bystedt is known as a solid 2-way pivot who uses his frame and reach to protect the puck more-so than throwing big hits, or being overly physical. He appears to have decent offensive tools and is a smart, creative player who can both shoot and dish the puck. While he doesn’t seem to excel in any particular category on the offensive side of the puck, he is average-to-above average in a lot of areas. His shot is good, but the release needs work. He is creative offensively and a good playmaker but will attempt passes that are above his skill level that lead to turnovers. On the other hand, he is praised for his strong defensive play and ability to use his size to both take away space and win puck battles, particularly at the J20 level. Bystedt’s skating is a point of contention among scouts and while the general consensus is that his top-speed is solid, his acceleration needs some work.

Where is Filip Bystedt ranked?

Bystedt is well thought of as a player and will most likely end up being drafted in the second round. He is very consistently ranked in the 30’s and 40’s by most scouting services, with just a few exceptions, so there is a decent shot that he is available when the Devils make their second round pick at 37. Here are his rankings across different sites/services.

What Others Say About Filip Bystedt

The Hockey Writers took an in-depth look at Bystedt as part of their own draft prospect profile series. They note that he has the potential to become a middle-6 center if he reaches his ceiling, but that he is raw right now and there are questions regarding how well his offense will translate to the next level. Because of his size and defensive prowess, Bystedt is a safer pick because if the offense doesn’t translate he could find himself slotting in a checking/pk role. I found this paragraph interesting in regards to Bystedt’s skating:

As with most big players who aren’t considered elite prospects, many scouts have pointed to Bystedt’s skating as a major flaw, however, I’m higher on his skating than most. Yes, there are issues, but I think we will see him fix them with relative ease. He doesn’t have the technical issues that many tall players have, he simply looks like a player who’s still getting used to his body, a similar issue that Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson ran into early in his career.

I found the Tage Thompson comparison interesting because my first thought reading this was of his brother Tyce, who, whenever I watch him skate at the NHL level gives me strong Bambi vibes.

Tony Ferrari, of the Hockey News, had this to say of Bystedt back in February:

He doesn’t throw his body around just to do it as many players his size will do. Rather, he will use his length to protect the puck and leverage his positioning in a puck battle.

as well as this:

Bystedt has looked fairly comfortable at the SHL level against men as he has split the season between the junior and senior ranks in Sweden. His two-way game has shown fairly well against men as well, using his aforementioned reach to get his body and stick in passing and shooting lanes.

He goes on to note that while the instincts and creativity are there, Bystedt is still working on his execution offensively.

FC Hockey had this to say about the player back in November:

“Bystedt is a big two-way center that plays with a lot of power and strength in his game and does always seem to find his way to the hot spots on the ice,” said Swedish scout Fredrik Haak. “He shows surprisingly great puckhandling skills for his size/coordination, covers the puck really well and can often pressure himself through opponents. Bystedt is a big asset on the power play and carries the puck easily through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone to start the play.”

The more I read about Bystedt the more I feel that his feet are not really much of an issue for him, or at least won’t hold him back.

Scott Wheeler of the Athletic ($) came away with a similar impression from the U18 worlds, noting that he moves well and excels at protecting the puck.

Finally, Corey Pronman of the Athletic ($), who didn’t rank Bystedt as a part of his March rankings, but has him going to Montreal at the end of the 1st round in his 1st round mock draft, noted that some NHL scouts feel Bystedt is a first rounder due to his combination of size and offensive ability.

A Little Video

Hockey Highlights 94 posted this highlight video of some of his international play. Bystedt isn’t a flashy player so it’s hard to say how much you can glean from highlights. It’s also not the best camera work but you can make out #18 if you zoom in a little in some of the clips.

This highlight package, also from Hockey Highlights 94, covers some of Bystedt’s J20 play and shows him reading the play well to intercept a few errant passes. I think you can see some of what the scouts are talking about here with his vision, playmaking, and shot.

An Opinion of Sorts

I am pretty on the fence with Bystedt, but I if I am forced to say yes or no, I would lean against picking him with the Devils 2nd round pick. Bystedt seems like a high-ceiling, low floor type player to me. He has a good shot to make the NHL because of his size and defensive ability, but I want the Devils to aim higher at this stage of the draft. I tend to think the offensive ability is somewhat overstated. This is just my own impression, but I think that often when you have a player this size, particularly as a center, scouts tend to salivate over the frame and you get a lot of the qualifier, “for his size” attached to his other attributes. That sounds alarm bells in my head. I don’t think Bystedt would be an inexcusable selection by any means, but if the Devils do select him, I hope it’s after they’ve traded down 10-15 spots and picked up another asset. I am not an expert by any means on this (or any) draft class, but my feeling is that you should always go for upside when drafting, and Bystedt seems like a lot of average packaged in extra-large frame.

Your Take

What are your thoughts on Filip Bystedt? Would you like the Devils to select him with their second round pick or should they stay away from him? Do you think he fills a need given his defensive prowess or would you prefer a higher ceiling player at 37 overall? Leave your thoughts below and thank you for reading.