From now until the 2013 NHL Entry Draft Blueshirt Banter is going to be previewing some of the candidates the New York Rangers might select. Since the Rangers do not have a first or second round pick, we will be looking at players rated to be drafted in or around the third round in order to familiarize ourselves with players the Rangers might select with their three third round picks.
At the end of the day we really don't know what's going to happen on draft night. Glen Sather might pull a rabbit out of his hat and trade back into the first round (unlikely), he might find someone he likes and make a move to get into the second round (possible) or he might just stick with his third rounders and find some talent in the later rounds (something Sather and his scouting staff have had success with).
Now it's time to talk a look at SEL center/right wing Filip Sandberg.
Sandberg is another undersized player with a significant amount of offensive upside. He;s impressed on the international stage, put up spectacular numbers in the Swedish Junior league, worked his way into getting 15 games in the SEL (where he scored a goal and an assist) and made some serious stries in his game.
Here's the Hockey Prospectus scouting report, where he is ranked 82nd.
Sandberg really impressed in international play this season, as he was good in non-World Juniors U20 play, as well as pushing his way up to Sweden's top line at the World Juniors. This is his second season of draft eligibility. He has high-end puck skills, and as a small player, he can dangle in tight with the puck. He possesses the flair to make difficult plays that create scoring chances out of seemingly nothing. Sandberg has above-average vision as well, so he can be a multi-dimensional offensive threat when he has the puck. His 5'9" frame will be his point of issue, but he has hustle in his game, and is quite good on the penalty kill. Sandberg will fight for pucks and pressure opponents. His skating is middling, as he does not possess the breakaway gear that is often desirable for a smaller player.
This is another situation where the Rangers would be taking a risk with the selection. Generally (as noted above) smaller players who make it a the next level have that "other gear" when it comes to their speed. Sandberg doesn't, and that might impact the translation of his game. However, he has a very successful year in Sweden, and obviously held his own in the SEL for 15 games. That's not an easy thing to do for someone his age.
Our own prospect expert (with some extra expertise when it comes to Swedish prospects) Alex Nunn weighs in on Sandberg here:
Despite his undersized frame, Filip Sandberg remains a very intriguing draft prospect. The former AIK junior works hard, hustles after the puck and likes to pressure opposing defenseman. Offensively, Sandberg is a very creative player and has tremendous on-ice vision which he uses well to link-up with his team-mates. His small 5'9" frame and average skating may be held against him, but his ability on the puck makes him an enticing option for any organisation seeking a low-risk boost on offense.
Sandberg captained and top-scored for HV71's national championship-winning J20 side last season. His international play for Sweden has been excellent and, after signing a new contract this summer, he is expected to compete full-time for HV71 in the SEL next year.
The Rangers might be interested in going down the Swedish pipeline again (guys like Carl Hagelin, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast come to mind) so Sandberg might fit here.