In 2019, Jonathan Dahlen decided to leave North America and head back to the second division Swedish league, the Allsvenskan, to play for Timra IK. At this point, he was nearly a forgotten prospect and was seemingly a bust. Now, he’s set to start the 2021-22 season on the first line with the San Jose Sharks.
Jonathan Dahlen Aiming for Big Role in San Jose
History of Dahlen
Dahlen, 23, was selected 42nd overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. In his draft year, he put up 15 goals and 29 points through 51 games played in the Allsvenskan. Just one year later, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Alexandre Burrows.
With the Canucks organization, Dahlen looked to have some promise. He put up 23 goals and 44 points through 44 games played in the Allsvenskan in the 2017-18 season and had 14 goals and 29 points through 50 games played in the AHL with the Utica Comets in the following season in 2018-19. Vancouver traded him mid-season, however, to the Sharks for Linus Karlsson.
While in the Sharks organization, Dahlen turned on a whole other switch, putting up 61 goals and 148 points through 96 games played in the Allsvenskan. Now, San Jose has convinced him to come over to North America again for the upcoming season, and he looks set to compete in the top-six for the team.
Dahlen’s Role in San Jose
As mentioned earlier, it appears that Dahlen will start the season on the first line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier. This gives the Swedish winger every bit of opportunity that he needs to prove he is the real deal.
Along with this, Dahlen is slotted into the right defenseman side on the second powerplay unit, with Couture, Nick Bonino, Alexander Barabanov, and Brent Burns. This will put Dahlen up to 18:00+ of ice-time on average, which gives him loads of opportunities to produce.
The fact of the matter is that San Jose is likely to be on the outside looking into the playoff picture this season, so they might as well give Dahlen every chance to prove himself, as he appears to be a hidden gem just waiting to explode based off of his production and skill level. If he doesn’t pan out, that’s okay, but the team needs to give him a try to find his way in North America.
Through the preseason, Dahlen accumulated two assists through three games played with an average ice-time of 14:20.
In his game against the Vegas Golden Knights, Dahlen started his preseason debut off with a 67.47 expected goals percentage (xG%). He played pretty solid offensively and did a good job at dictating the pace in the Sharks zone defensively. Vegas held him off the score sheet, however, he was definitely a contributing factor in his team’s victory.
In his game against the Los Angeles Kings, Dahlen led the team in xG% with an 81.91. He dominated offensively and his line managed to shut down the opposition relatively well. He finished the game with an assist, as the Sharks lost by a score of 4-3.
In his game against the Anaheim Ducks, he had a 68.51 xG%, ranking him sixth on the team. He provided some solid quality scoring opportunities and didn’t really allow any high-danger looks either, he finished with an assist as the Sharks lost in a shootout.
Overall, Dahlen had himself a great preseason with the Sharks, which is the main reason he is looking like a mainstay on the team this season. He was a positive factor in all three games, and his upside is just too much to pass up on.
Now it’s important to remember that preseason is very different from the regular season. However, the signs of a Dahlen breakout season have been building up for years, and it seems as he is finally ready to shatter the barrier.
It’ll be exciting to watch and see if he can put all of his tools together and bring some hope for the future of San Jose hockey.
All advanced stats from Evolving-Hockey.com.
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