On Day Two of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs selected a hardworking, pesky winger whose player comparables included Brendan Gallagher and Leafs’ fan favourite, Leo Komarov. That man was Carl Grundstrom, who, after making his North American debut in the Calder Cup Playoffs, has shot up prospect rankings.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Preview, 50-in-50: Carl Grundstrom
Drafted out of the MODO system, Carl Grundstrom moved to Frolunda HC in 2016-17. Playing for the defending SHL Champions, ice-time was going to have to be earned.
As the season progressed, Grundstrom was slowly given more opportunity in the Frolunda lineup. Missing seven games over the year, mainly due to the World Juniors, Grundstrom played in 45 games for Frolunda last year. By season’s end, he had an impressive 14 goals and 20 points, tied for the team lead in goal scoring. In fact, Grundstrom led the SHL in U20 scoring, beating the likes of Lias Andersson and Rasmus Asplund. His aggressive style of play also set him apart from some of the other young SHL players. After racking up 53 PIM in 2015-16,
His aggressive style of play also set him apart from some of the other young SHL players. After racking up 53 PIM in 2015-16, Grundstrom became a much more disciplined player in 2017. The 19-year old registered just six PIM, easily the lowest total of his short career.
In the postseason, he failed to find the scoresheet. In 14 games, Grundstrom recorded just one goal and two points. After finishing third in the regular season, Frolunda were eliminated in the semi-finals by Brynas IF.
For most, December 26 is Boxing Day. However, for hockey fans, it marks the beginning of the World Junior Championships. The two-week long tournament is one of the lone opportunities most fans will have to watch their favourite teams’ top prospects.
As such, Maple Leafs fans have eagerly awaited the World Juniors the past few seasons due to the rebuild. In 2015 the Leafs’ star at the tournament was William Nylander. That was followed up by Dmytro Timashov and Kasperi Kapanen‘s impressive performances in 2016.
This past winter, the man to watch for Toronto fans was Grundstrom. Named an alternate captain for the Tre Kronor, he scored seven points in seven games. Due to the mixture of matching up against players his own age and the intensity of the short tournament, Grundstrom doubled his regular season total in the World Juniors with 12 PIM in just seven games.
Sweden fell short of expectations, however, finishing fourth for the third straight year, as Russia defeated them in the bronze medal game. Grundstrom’s solid effort put him third in team scoring, behind Alexander Nylander and Joel Eriksson Ek.
North American Debut
Following the end of the SHL season, Carl Grundstrom signed a three-year entry level contract with the Leafs. Toronto decided to bring him, as well as Pierre Engvall and Jesper Lindgren, over to the Marlies as reinforcements for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
While most European prospects need time to transition, Grundstrom needed no time at all. The 19-year old appeared in six games for the Marlies, recording three goals and four points. Unfortunately, the Marlies were defeated in seven games by the Syracuse Crunch, ending Grundstrom’s trial with the Marlies early. His performance opened some eyes on the former second round pick, shooting him up most Maple Leafs prospect rankings.
Profile (via EliteProspects)
Weight: 194 lbs
NHL Draft: Second Round, 57th Overall in 2016 by Toronto
Contract (via CapFriendly)
Signed on April 28, Grundstrom’s entry level contract is pretty simple. He carries a base salary of $832,500 as well as a signing bonus of $92,500 that puts his cap hit at $925,000. An important aspect to the Leafs, he does not have any performance bonuses, which could come in handy in a couple years time.
Grundstrom is currently participating in Frolunda HC’s preseason, over in Sweden. Although it was speculated that he could join the Marlies full time this year, it seems like Grundstrom will play another year in the SHL.
Jam packed on the wings, the Marlies don’t have a major need for him this season. With the ability to play at home, it is beneficial to the Leafs to be able to play as many prospects as possible.
Besides, Toronto is very familiar with the Frolunda system. Current Marlies winger Andreas Johnsson spent three years with the SHL club after being drafted by the Leafs. If Grundstrom plays in Sweden next season, which seems likely, it will mark five consecutive years in which a Leafs prospect has played with Frolunda.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images