Welcome back to Top Shelf Hockey Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2017 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at defenceman Erik Brannstrom.
Erik Brannstrom is another offensive defenceman with a ton of international experience. During the 2015-16 season he was part of Sweden’s bronze medal-winning team at the Under 17 Hockey Challenge, as well as the silver medal winning team at the Under 18 World Championships. He picked up three points in six games and four points in seven games respectively at those tournaments. Brannstrom also brought home a silver medal from the 2015 Ivan Hlinka tournament with four points in five games. Brannstrom continued his international play this year, though did not win any medals. He was part of Sweden’s Hlinka and Under 18 teams once again. He was also very good at the five nations tournament.
At the club level, Brannstrom has excelled in Sweden’s junior leagues, being a better than PPG player in the J20. This has earned him a promotion to play in the SHL, Sweden’s top men’s league. He has picked up one goal and six points in 35 games this year.
Erik Brannstrom Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #26
Defense — shoots Left
Born September 2nd, 1999 — Eksjö, Sweden
Height 5’10” — Weight 179 lbs [179 cm / 81 kg]
In order to succeed in the NHL as an undersized defenceman, one must be an excellent skater. Brannstrom certainly checks that box. He has outstanding speed in both directions and gets up to top speed quickly, with great acceleration. Brannstrom has an excellent stride, and his strong lower body gives him a lot of power. He is able to fight through checks, and is tough to knock off the puck. He also has very good edge work and agility. Brannstrom can use subtle moves and shifts to get past forecheckers and start the transition game.
Brannstrom is also an excellent play maker. He has outstanding puck handling ability and the poise to control the puck and make plays in all situations. He can use his skating and stick handling to break the puck out of his own zone and get the transition game started. Brannstrom can create offence both through leading the rush and as a trailer. He also is able to walk the line at the blue line, making smart plays when quarterbacking things from the point. His passing skill and vision is also high end, and gives the impression that he can be a power play quarterback at the next level. He is smart with the puck, making smart plays with it on his stick.
Erik Brannstrom could stand to increase the power in both his wrist and slap shots. Added upper body mass could help with this in the coming years. However, his slap shot and one-timer is accurate and he keeps it low and on net. He also has a knack of getting it on net, even with traffic. Brannstrom also has a very good release and excellent accuracy on his wrist shot. He uses it to effectively get shots on net when under pressure.
Brannstrom’s best asset in the defensive zone is his ability to retrieve loose pucks, and start the transition quickly. The best defence is a good offence, and he shows that through quickly starting the transition game. When he does get pinned in his own zone, he can be overpowered by bigger and stronger forwards. He also could stand to work on his positioning and defensive reads.
Projection and Comparison
Erik Brannstrom has the offensive ability and potential to become an important part of a team’s transition game and power play. However, in order to make an impact at the NHL level, he will need to work on getting stronger and better defensively. He could be a bit of a project here, but with his skills it has the potential to be a very profitable project. Brannstrom’s style is similar to Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins, but this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on talent.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect available on our draft board.
Main Photo via https://twitter.com/brannstromerik