In regard to young defensemen in the Flyers’ pipeline, most of the focus is on names like Cam York, Egor Zamula or Ronnie Attard — all players who have already gotten their feet wet playing in the NHL and AHL. But across the pond in Sweden, Emil Andrae is coming off a strong season that has raised some eyebrows.
No. 5: Emil Andrae
2021-22 League/Team: HV71 (HockeyAllsvenskan)
2021-22 Statistics: 9 G, 24 A, 33 P in 41 GP
Acquired: Drafted No. 54 overall (2020)
How did Andrae’s 2021-22 hockey season go? Is his stock trending up or down from where it was entering the year?
Andrae put together a solid 2021-22 season, and his stock has most definitely been trending up since this time last year. In 2020-21, Andrae struggled to consistently rack up points between the SHL and HockeyAllsvenskan. This season, though, Andrae was one of HockeyAllsvenskan’s better defensemen, logging nine goals and 33 points in 41 games for HV71. And in the playoffs he was even better, logging 11 points in 10 games to help his squad return to the SHL after being relegated to HockeyAllsvenskan in 2021.
Andrae stood out at the World Juniors as well, logging eight points (four goals, four assists) in seven games as captain of the Swedes. He was also named to the 2022 Media All-Star Team for his efforts at the World Juniors.
Three goals, four assists and turning heads at the @WorldJuniors.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) August 16, 2022
Flyers defensive prospect @emilandrae11 is tied for fourth in total points at the @iihf_wjc, representing Sweden. pic.twitter.com/wrmYcMdNAH
What are we expecting from Andrae this season? What should we be looking for from him?
While Andrae was very good for his club in 2021-22, he was also playing in Sweden’s second-tier pro league — similar to how the AHL compares to the NHL. This season, he’ll be playing against much better competition in the SHL, and he’ll need to prove he can hold his own against stiffer opponents.
However, Andrae isn’t a complete stranger to the higher skill of the SHL. Prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, he’d already appeared in 41 regular-season SHL tilts, though he only managed a total of seven points — all assists — in those outings. HV71 is already three games into the new season, and Andrae has logged one assist and a minus-2 rating in those tilts.
How does Andrae fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? Where does he stand in the Flyers’ organizational depth?
Andrae is not a player likely to make a splash in the NHL in the immediate future. He will need some additional time to develop in Sweden, and eventually in Lehigh Valley. But while he does still require an extra bit of seasoning, he most definitely remains one of the Flyers’ top young defensemen in the prospect pool.
When the time comes for Andrae to finally start seeing some opportunities with the Flyers, he’ll likely serve as a third-pairing, maybe second-pairing defenseman who can contribute on the power play. But until then, an extended stay with the Phantoms certainly seems like the logical next step once he moves on from the Swedish leagues.
What do we think Andrae’s ultimate NHL upside is, and how likely is it that he gets to something approaching that?
If Andrae develops into the player the Flyers hope he can become, it’s not out of the question to foresee him serving as a solid second-pair defenseman with special teams upside one day. He’s far from a perfect player and does have some deficiencies — his size being one of them. But while he may not have the largest frame, he plays with a ton of tenacity and relishes the physical aspects of the game. If he can continue his upward trajectory, he’ll have a chance to be a useful NHL player down the road.
This is under the assumption that he continues to impress in Sweden, of course. If Andrae is unable to take a noticeable step forward in the SHL this season, it’ll be fair to question if his ceiling is as high as initially expected when he was selected in the second round of the 2020 draft.