Prospects with notable bloodlines are always a bit more intriguing. The genetics are one thing, but the nurture aspect is also big. As one scout recently explained to me, the kids of former professionals pretty much grew up in a professional locker room. They know what to expect. They know how the level at which top players worked on a daily basis. Drafting with nepotism in mind is a terrible idea, but there certainly is reason to give a few "extra credit points" to prospects with family in hockey. At the draft, you're faced with projecting the futures of a bunch of teenagers who have been under constant scrutiny. The ones with lineage provide a small bit of certainty in what is an inherently uncertain task.
With major help from Alex Nunn, here is our draft profile of Jonathan Dahlen; the son of former Ranger Ulf Dahlen.
Jonathan Dahlen, Timrå IK (Allsvenskan)
Position: Left Wing
Birthday: February 3rd, 1998 (18 years old)
Height/Weight: 5'11, 176 lbs
2015-2016 Stats (Including Playoffs): 56 GP, 19 G, 15 A, 10 PIM, +4
NHL Central Scouting: 11th (European Skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 24th
Future Considerations: 52nd
Corey Pronman (ESPN): 53rd
Craig Button (TSN): 54th
With some minor edits, the following (in italics) is Alex Nunn's report on Dahlen. Alex is a great source for European hockey and specifically watches the Allsvenskan frequently.
"Jonathan Dahlén’s draft year has been almost stride-for-stride identical to that of 2015 third-round pick Robin Kovács. He used a terrific second-half to be the leading scorer as an 18-year old for an underperforming Allsvenskan club (Timrå) and was their best player on most nights. Dahlén is a smart, consistent, and dangerous winger capable of creating offense out of nothing. He’s adept at finding open ice around the other team's net, loves to battle for the puck, and has a fast release that he uses often.
One of Dahlén’s biggest strengths is his superior hockey sense. He’s an extremely intelligent player that reads the game well ahead of time and in turn locates pockets of space to punish the opposition. He makes big plays at key points, has excellent on-ice awareness, and can take over a game quickly. Dahlén sticks with the puck in battles against larger opponents. He's not particularly big or strong, but he is tenacious and forechecks hard to hurry opposing defensemen. Dahlén’s skating can look ungainly at times, though he’s agile, elusive, and has decent top speed.
His defensive game does need some work, too, but significant improvements have already been made in that regard over the past 12 months. A well-rounded offensive forward with significant scoring upside that skates well, has great hands and a quick trigger."
Here are some of Dahlen's goals that Alex picked out.
And some assists.
I personally have never seen Dahlen play, but I trust Alex's judgment. Furthermore, reports I have read from others are similar. He's an intelligent player who is developing a complete game and has a fairly high ceiling as a scoring winger. Nobody seems to have any grave concerns. He's not a big guy, but these clips show he clearly has strong legs and core strength. He could improve his skating, sure. He's not going to run around the rink intimidating everyone; fine. So then, HockeyProspect.com aside, why is Dahlen being ranked as a borderline third-round pick?
My best guess is that his lack of appearances at the international stage hurts his stock. He never really had a realistic shot of making the U-20 World Junior team with so many older, talented forwards available to Sweden. That's not a huge deal, since very few pre-draft players participate in the WJC for the top countries. What's a bigger deal is that, as a 1997 birthday, he missed the age cutoff for the U-18 team by a couple of weeks, which meant he couldn't participate at the U-18 World Juniors or at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. These are tournaments that most notable draft-eligible players participate in.
However, he did play at the Hlinka Memorial Tournament last year, and performed incredibly well. He also plays against grown men in Sweden, so it's not as if he's tearing up a junior-level league while being completely untested against tough competition. Alex compared Dahlen to Kovacs, who was a second-round talent that slid to the Rangers in the early third-round. They would be very grateful if it happened yet again this year with Dahlen.