Detroit Red Wings Sleeper Among NHL Rookie Scoring Leaders

nhl rookie scoring leaders

Jonatan Berggren has played 35 games in the NHL, scoring eight goals and adding ten assists for just over half a point per game. Among Detroit Red Wings players who have played ten or more games this season, he ranks seventh in that category, showing exactly what kind of offense he can bring to a Red Wings lineup in dire need. Those 18 points help Berggren sit among the NHL rookie scoring leaders, especially when considering his per-game pace.

This should not be a surprise, seeing how Berggren produced 64 points in 70 games in the AHL last year and 45 points in 49 games in the SHL the season before that. Whenever a player pops like this, people begin to inflate expectations of what they could become. Without the intention of bursting bubbles, we will look at realistic expectations for Jonatan Berggren moving forward by comparing him to similar rookies and seeing how their careers have played out to date.

Jonatan Berggren Among NHL Rookie Scoring Leaders

Potential Career Comparables

Robby Fabbri – The Realistic Outlook

Starting with someone Red Wings fans know well, Robby Fabbri had an extremely comparable rookie season to Berggren. Fabbri was drafted 21st overall in 2013 and came into the NHL with the St Louis Blues in 2015-16. He played more games than Berggren will, but they have both scored just over half a point per game in the rookie seasons.

Robby Fabbri is a tough comparison, though, seeing as his knees have worked against him, but it still paints a picture of a real possibility for Berggren. Fabbri is an offensively-minded third-line winger on a contender. He is more of a shooter than Berggren is, has a career average of half a point per game, and has a reputation for consistently bringing offense but sacrificing on the defensive side.

Nikolaj Ehlers – The Positive Outlook

In Nikolaj Ehlers’s rookie season with the Winnipeg Jets, he played 72 games, scoring 15 goals and 23 assists for 38 points, averaging slightly more points per game than Berggren has. Ehlers, like Berggren, is not the best defensive player and is a highly skilled offensive playmaker.

If Berggren were to follow a path like Ehlers, the Red Wings would have a winger they could expect to score 20-30 goals and 50-60 points consistently each season. He may never be a first-line winger, but he will be an extremely good top-six scorer on a contender.

Age throws a slight wrench in this comparison, as Ehlers played his rookie season at age 19, while Berggren is already 22. This does not mean Berggren will never be as good as Ehlers, especially considering the injuries he has faced, yet it does give you pause.

Mikko Rantanen – The Absolute Best Outlook

In his age-20 season, Mikko Rantanen joined a Colorado team that was historically bad. All that context needs to be considered when considering that Rantanen and Berggren have had similar rookie seasons. We also need to think about the context that Berggren has played in, one where he has consistently produced offense on an extremely poor offensive team while not playing next to someone named Nathan MacKinnon. On top of that, Berggren has barely played with the Red Wings’ best offensive piece in Dylan Larkin and has still produced similarly to Rantanen.

Since that rookie season, Rantanen has scored consistently above a point per game, won a Stanley Cup, and has been one of the best wingers in the NHL. Red Wings fans cannot place this expectation on Berggren, especially considering that at age 22, Rantanen scored 31 goals and 87 points, but they sure can hope.

Jesper Bratt – The Best Comparable

Bratt was only 19 when he entered the NHL, but their rookie season scoring rates are extremely similar. Not only are they both at about half a point per game, but they also seem to score in similar ways. Berggren so far has gotten about 35% of his points on the power play, and in the 74 games Bratt played his rookie season, he scored 34% of his 35 points on the powerplay. If Berggren continues at this pace, he should finish this season at 15 goals and 21 assists for 37 points. Bratt, in his rookie season, scored 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points.

Since then, Bratt was a middle-six winger averaging 30 points a season until last year, the 2021-22 NHL season, where he scored 73 points in 77 games. This season Bratt is continuing his excellency with 48 points in 47 games. This feels very possible for Berggren. Being smaller sized and not very fast, it is amazing how quickly he has adjusted to the NHL pace by slowing down the play and forcing others to play at his speed. If in the next few years, especially as the team around him develops and improves as the New Jersey Devils have around Bratt, Berggren could very likely improve to the same level.

Filip Zadina – The Pessimistic Outlook

To Red Wings fans who have been following the progression of Filip Zadina to this point, I’m sorry. Yet there is still a reality where Berggren starts hot, struggles with consistency, and slows down, eventually struggling to find a place in the lineup. Often young guys come in, like Zadina, and teammates help them. Other teams haven’t seen any film on them, and they can make an impact immediately. But once they settle in, the NHL grind gets longer, other teams start game-planning for them, and they struggle to adapt. Zadina scored at about 0.44 points per game over his first 77 games, a little lower than Berggren but still quite similar.

This to say, this outcome is not likely for Berggren, who has shown his personality as a laid-back individual, confident in playing his game and taking mistakes and challenges in stride. In contrast, Zadina has a documented problem with low confidence and being extremely hard on himself, as well as relying heavily on a shot that does not seem to fool NHL goaltenders.

Naturally, the most likely outcome is that throughout his career, Berggren falls somewhere in the middle of these comparables. Yet the upside is there, and there is plenty of reason for optimism among Red Wings fans with an eye to the future.

All stats via and Hockey-Reference.

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