Our final profile for the Flyers' 2014 draft class is another Swede, a small defenseman named Jesper Pettersson. Pettersson's a bit different from the rest of the group in at least one key way -- he's older. He turns 20 on Wednesday, and he'd already gone through the draft process twice (in 2012 and 2013) without being taken by anyone.
Consider this timely: the Flyers signed Pettersson to an entry-level deal on Monday.
Date of Birth: July 16, 1994
Primary Team, 2013-14: Linkoping, SHL
Nationality: Swedish (Stockholm)
At the SHL level, Pettersson played 13:09 per game in his games with Linkoping.
Rankings and Opinions
Not a ton out there, but here's what we've got. ESPN's Corey Pronman ($) had the following written about Pettersson in his Flyers draft review:
I did not rank Jesper Pettersson due to lack of viewings this year, but he was impressive to me as a U-20. He skates well, can move the puck and while small, can hit. I saw him as a midround talent last season.
And EliteProspects gives us the following:
Pettersson is a defensive defenseman. Although small in stature, he is very stocky and plays like a much bigger man. He likes the rough stuff and blocks shots. Might also have some offensive upside.
There unfortunately isn't a ton of scouting-based literature out there on Pettersson, but the limited nuggets we've seen seem to be pretty consistent. The biggest knock on Pettersson's is that, obviously, he's very small (depending on where you look, he's listed as anywhere from 5'8" to 5'10"). He also doesn't seem to be much of an offensive contributor, as his single point in his 48 games last year at the SHL level may indicate.
But it sounds like he's got some things going for him regardless. As you would hope and expect for someone his size, he's pretty quick and is a good skater. And it sounds like he's not afraid to play the kind of game reserved for someone a bit bigger than him -- the above reports indicate that he's a fairly physical player who's adept at hitting and blocking shots.
Also, he's possibly insane. He did this at last winter's WJC Championships in Russia. Leaving the penalty box to jump into a brawl as the game ends? Truest Flyer. (He would end up getting suspended for the gold-medal game as a result.)
In any case, the guy's historical track record has some things going for him. In addition to obviously being chosen to last year's WJC team for Sweden, he's played 62 games at the SHL level, one of the best non-NHL hockey leagues in the world. And though his offense in that time has largely been nonexistent (1 goal and 3 assists in those 62 games), he's shown some offensive potential at the J-20 level, so maybe with some SHL experience under his belt, the points will come around a bit this year.
With that acknowledged, it does appear that Pettersson's play does seem to lend itself to more of a stay-at-home style. There are fair questions as to how that will translate, with his size and speed being what they are. But it's an interesting combination of skills, and when you're picking in the seventh round, sometimes "interesting" is all you can really ask for.
Pettersson will spend this year in the SHL, hopefully getting regular minutes with Linkoping. It remains to be seen if the Flyers will attempt to get him to come to the AHL the year after.
Fit with the Flyers
Pettersson is a bit like third-round pick Mark Friedman in that maybe he isn't quite the type you'd expect the Flyers to have an interest in, but he does fit in with what the Flyers were trying to do in this draft -- acquire good-skating players with some upside. He's in the tier down from the Flyers' top four defensive prospects, and as any seventh-rounder is, he's a long shot to ever turn into really anything at the NHL level.
Still, Pettersson is one to watch out for. He's playing with adults, and hopefully another full year in Sweden's best league will help him round out his offense and keep things under control. If he can use his defensive mindset successfully while growing as an all-around player, the Flyers may have another fun defensive prospect on their hands.