Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, Kyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson 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”! Today we bring you our Otto Stenberg Scouting Report.
Otto Stenberg Scouting Report
While some prospects in the upcoming NHL draft have some clear strengths and weaknesses, others can play well in pretty much any given situation. The question then becomes the following: What is better? A master of a trade or a jack of all trades, master of non? A question that doesn’t have a correct answer and is all about preference. For NHL teams who are looking for a player with a great and versatile skillset in the 2023 NHL draft, they might look towards Otto Stenberg.
The Swedish forward has a wonderful toolkit and high ceiling, with good skating, shooting, and 200-foot game. Despite these very apparent qualities and a great showing with Sweden at the recent U18 World championship, Stenberg’s draft stock has dropped throughout the season. One of the reasons for this might be his season with Frölunda HC, where he never was able to stand out in the SHL. He did play in 23 games for the SHL team, but only had three points all season. In the J20 Nationell, he also didn’t stand out with just 26 points in 29 games. For a prospect with as many qualities as he possesses consistency is a worry. However, the quality is there for Stenberg to develop.
Centre — shoots Left
Born May 29th, 2005 — Stenungsund, Sweden
Height 5’11” — Weight 180 lbs [180 cm/82 kg]
Otto Stenberg is a dynamic and elusive player who has strong and refined skating fundamentals. He is constantly moving his feet and plays a great and fast 200-foot game. His skating mechanics are near perfect, and he can change direction on a dime. He uses his edges well to create room to evade pressure and create openings offensively when having the puck on his stick.
On top of this, he has great speed and acceleration, which makes him a constant threat to the defenders. On the rush, he doesn’t shy away from challenging defenders with his speed, and nice puck control, to get past them, and in the zone, Stenberg has the tools to suddenly change the flow of the attack with his burst of speed to the inside of the zone to create scoring chances.
Stenberg’s speed and ability to read the game at a high level also allows him to get involved in a lot of defensive plays as he often can get into the right areas to regain possession. On the forecheck Stenberg can use his acceleration to intercept the breakout pass to keep the pressure in the offensive zone. On the backcheck he uses his speed to get back and apply the initial pressure well. He is also able to get back in position afterward to block a shot or pass after a battle along the boards.
One of the first things to notice about Otto Stenberg’s offensive game will be his ability to read the game. He is a smart player, who sees the play develop before him and gets to the areas that he can get involved the most. This could be on the forecheck where he can utilize his speed and great stickhandling to regain possession or to find the inside of a defender to get a scoring chance using his acceleration.
Stenberg also can play a grinding style in front of the net despite lacking a bit of size. He is brave and plays a bigger game and will be tenacious to win find the loose puck or get a deflection when he has the chance to do so. This also comes across in other areas of the ice, but he isn’t scared of bringing the fight to the defenders in front of the net to get in the scoring positions.
Shooting and Playmaking:
Another noticeable area of Stenberg’s offensive game is his shot. It’s a quick and deceptive release that can be tough to handle for the goaltenders. It’s also quite powerful and especially on the powerplay he is often the go-to guy for the one-timer from the side. However, there are times when his placement and accuracy let him down from being more of a prominent goal scorer. He also has to be able of making slightly better decisions when it comes to his shot selection. There are times when he wants to force a shot through traffic, which is easy to block.
The last area to focus on is Stenberg’s playmaking. It’s quite good yet also inconsistent. A lot of times he makes a smart pass to get out of trouble to an open teammate. Both during transitional plays and when controlling the puck in the offensive zone. However, there are times when he is pressured that he tends to force a pass to the middle of the ice. While he is a dynamic player overall, that part can be somewhat one-dimensional over time. Especially against better players which was one of the reasons he struggled in the SHL.
As mentioned previously Otto Stenberg plays a good 200-foot game and does most things well. This is also the case defensively, where he is aware of his responsibilities in his zone. He will battle hard along the boards when playing as a winger to win the puck. He is also willing to block a ton of shots and get into the right lanes due to his great understanding of the game.
Just like Stenberg is willing to battle hard in front of the net in the attacking zone, he is also willing to be effective in front of his net by using his great strength to overpower even much bigger opponents. One of the areas where he looked good in the SHL games was in the defensive areas of the ice, where he always looked engaged and willing to compete to win the puck.
The skating and movement of Stenberg also make him a great asset in terms of the breakout. His great hockey sense allows him to get open for a pass by the defender to take the puck out of the defensive zone and bring it up ice with either a smart outlet pass to another forward or carry the puck towards the offensive zone by himself.
Comparable and Prediction:
Overall, Otto Stenberg is a fascinating prospect to follow in the upcoming draft. It’s clear he has all the tools to be a success in the NHL but hasn’t quite mastered any of them yet. His ceiling is high, and with the right coaching, he could be a steal in the upcoming draft. However, it’s not the safest pick since his consistency is a major question mark. He needs to do what he does for Team Sweden regularly to succeed at the next level. He also needs to work on finetuning his skills to make to take them to the next level. If he can do that, he has the potential to be a player similar to Mitch Marner. If he only partly develops his skillset he might be more similar to Morgan Geekie, who does a lot of small things really well.
Main Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports