Weight: 179 lbs
Ranked 10th by Draft Analyst.
Ranked 17th by Jeff Marek (Sportsnet).
Ranked 18th by Future Considerations.
Ranked 19th by McKeen’s Hockey.
Ranked 20th by Corey Pronman (ESPN).
Ranked 25th by Dobber Prospects.
As we continue to take a look at possible Sabres picks, the next player we will focus on is Swedish defensemen, Erik Brannstrom.
Brannstrom is an undersized defensemen standing only 5’9″ but his skating, hockey sense, and playmaking ability on the blue line make him one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. Brannstrom played 19 games for the HV 71 J20 team, where he produced 23 points in 19 games as the captain. His 1.21 points per game in the SuperElit league were tops among U18 defensemen. In 35 games with HV 71, he produced a goal and five assists playing against men. His six points were 7th all time for u18 defensemen in the SHL.
Some teams may be a bit weary of his size but Jeff Marek of Sportsnet had this to say,
“NHL teams who favour a smart possession game will love Brannstrom. Undersized by traditional standards, but moves the puck great.”
Brannstrom is behind only Cale Makar as one of the most dynamic offensive defensemen in this draft. He has the ability to quarterback a power play and move the puck up ice. His hockey sense is among the top of all players in the draft and that ability to read the ice makes up for his lack of size. He is a smooth skater and moves up the ice well.
As you can see in the clip of his first SHL goal, Brannstrom is able to transition quickly, beat the back checking forward, and find the open space before receiving the pass. He makes no mistake blasting one home.
In the second clip Brannstrom, now playing in the J20 league, shows his defensive ability coming across the ice and taking space away from the forward. He steals the puck and moves up the ice quickly before passing it off to his teammate who finishes it off at the other end. Once again in the clip of his goal, he shows his ability to move up the ice quickly, leading the rush, and finishing off the play with a beautiful shot.
Brannstrom is likely to go in the 20s but could go in the mid teens to a team willing to take the risk on smaller defensemen. It is unclear if his defensive game could translate over to the NHL level due to the size difference. His work ethic and compete level are not in question as he is a player who works diligently in the defensive zone. Rather his ability to battle bigger and stronger forwards in the corner and in front of the net at the next level, is in question.
If the Sabres decide to move back in the draft, Brannstrom would be a solid choice in the late teens. If he is able to build up his strength over the next couple of years, Brannstrom will be able to make the jump to the NHL. After a couple years of seasoning over seas, he could become the puck moving defensemen the Sabres desperately need when he finally makes it to North America.
Thank you for reading and more prospect profiles are on the way!
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