Monday afternoon the Vancouver Canucks acquired Swedish forward Jonathan Dahlen in exchange for veteran winger Alexandre Burrows.
Dahlen comes to the Canucks organization after being selected 42nd overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft this past summer. He returned to Sweden to play for Timra IK in the Allsvenskan (Swedish second division) looking to take another step in his game. Which he did.
There had been some suggestions that Dahlen could've been taken in the latter parts of the first round. The first day passed without having his name called, but he didn't have to wait long on day two until the Senators selected him.
Last season, he had 15 goals and 14 assists in 51 games with Timra, he followed that up with 6 goals in 5 post-season games for Timra, which accounted for 50% of their offensive production.
So far this season, Dahlen has improved on all of those categories with 24 goals and 18 assists in 44 contests.
He currently leads the team in goals and points, which is extremely impressive given that he is 19 years old in a professional league. Seeing an improvement of 0.57 PPG in your draft year to 0.95 PPG your draft plus one year is exactly something that any NHL team hopes to see in their prospects.
The young Swedish centre, who also plays left wing regularly, is first in points amongst U20 players in the Allsvenskan, and ranked 6th in the entire league. His shot totals are a noticeable part of his game, averaging 3.95 shots per game played, which is second in the entre league. Shots are a strong indicator of a player getting themselves into situations to strike offensively, so seeing such a high rate of getting his shots on net is an encouraging sign of his offence being sustainable.
Earlier this week, Dahlen had a very impressive offensive streak snapped, which was that he had been a part of 13 straight goals for Timra IK. Since his return from World Juniors, he's had points in 12 of 16 games.
The newest Canucks prospect is 8th amongst forwards in average time on ice (18:55), and 9th in plus minus (+14).
Jonathan is the son of former NHLer Ulf Dahlen and has represented Sweden at the U17, U18 and U20 World Junior Championships over the years. He has made an impact on the score-sheet in each appearance, including this past January, where he posted five goals and one assist in seven games in Toronto and Montreal. He led the entire tournament with 34 shots in seven games, which is 4.85 SH/GP. That trend of shooting a lot is consistent with his performance in Sweden.
There is a lot to like about the newest player in the Canucks organization. Canucks GM Jim Benning was available after the trade, and touched on some of the aspects of Dahlen's game that stood out
"Jonathan is a very skilled player with natural goal scoring instincts," Benning said. "He's had a terrific season playing in Sweden and was a big part of Sweden's offence at the World Juniors. His offensive upside combined with his willingness to go to difficult areas of the ice will make him a valuable player for our organization moving forward."
Dahlen has a great wrist shot that he is able to get off quickly in tight spaces. He has a knack for creating a turnover through is relentless fore-check and hounding of the puck carrier. One of his strengths is his hands; he has the ability to control the puck and stick handle with ease. His hockey sense is his greatest strength. Obviously, he is a shoot first player, but he uses his ability to read and react to the play to ensure that he isn't a one dimensional player.
Over the course of his development, he will need to improve his foot speed and strength, but both are areas of his game that will advance as he gets older.
The 5'11" and 185 lbs centre will finish the season in Sweden, but it expected that the organization will look sign him to an entry level deal in the summer and have him come over to North America next season.
The Ostersund, Sweden native gives something that Canucks forward prospect group was lacking. It will be fascinating to see how Dahlen will adapt to the smaller rinks in North America, but if his performance at the World Juniors this past winter are the first indications, then it's clear it won't take long for him to get used to it.
Canucks fans should be rightfully excited about what the newest acquisition means for the future of the organization. He has the tool-box that is needed to make it at the NHL level.