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Filip Westerlund split the season between the top division Frolunda team and their affiliate in the Swedish Under 20 League. Westerlund played 33 games in the country’s top men’s league, putting up just four points. He would also play seven games in Europe’s Champions Hockey League, helping Frolunda to the title. He also played in 23 games at the J20 level, picking up seven points. Westerlund comes from good bloodlines. His father is Jerry Andersson, who played pro hockey in Sweden for many years.
His real breakout though was on the international stage. Westerlund had a goal and an assist over seven games at the IIHF Under 18 World Championships. His value was more than just points though, as he was named one of the top three Swedish players in the tournament. Westerlund also represented Sweden at the 2015-16 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge, winning a bronze medal.
Filip Westerlund Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #74
Defense — shoots Right
Born Apr 17 1999 — Härnösand, Sweden
Height 5’11” — Weight 174 lbs [180 cm/79 kg]
Westerlund has great mobility. He has very good acceleration and good top-end speed in both directions. He also has very good agility, helping him to open up lanes offensively, and to maintain his gap control defensively. Westerlund has very good pivots and edge work. This allows him to cover a lot of ice, as well as to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Westerlund is a little undersized, but has a strong lower body and a low centre of gravity. He is strong on the puck, and is good at battling in the corners and in front of the net. However, he still has some problems with particularly big forwards.
Filip Westerlund has good hands and stick handling ability. He can retrieve the puck in his own zone, and avoid fore checkers, moving it up the ice effectively. He also makes good crisp passes to start the rush, and can make the long breakaway pass. This skill extends to the offensive zone. Westerlund has good poise to control the play from the blue line, as well as having the vision and passing skills to quarterback the play from the point.
Westerlund is willing to join the rush as well as to pinch in from the point, looking for a shot. However, he is much better as a play maker than as a goal scorer. His wrist shot has good accuracy, but lacks power. His slap shot has similar concerns. He can add some muscle to his frame, and improve in both these areas.
Westerlund has very good positioning and defensive ability. His skating allows him to keep himself between his man and the front of the net. He forces his man to the outside, and does not let them cut to the net. Westerlund uses an active stick to cut down passing lanes. He also is very quick with a pokecheck. Once a turnover is created, Westerlund can transition quickly from defence to offence. One issue is that he is not a very physical player. He tends to rely on his positioning and stickwork to defend, and is not one to initiate contact, though he can fight through it.
Projection and Comparison
There is some real potential in Filip Westerlund. He needs to be a bit stronger and more physical, but if he can improve in these areas, he has the skating and skills to be a top four defenceman. It may take some time to develop and Westerlund will likely play another year in Sweden next season. His style is reminiscent of Anton Stralman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but this is not a talent based comparison.
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 NHL.com