Many hockey fans in the U.S. may not be too familiar with top-ranked European prospect Filip Forsberg, but the 17-year-old Ostervala, Sweden native has the physical tools and upside to make a huge impact at the NHL level soon. At age 16, after scoring 40 points in 36 games for Leksands’ junior squad, he was sent up to the senior team and has been playing against grown men ever since. Forsberg scored four goals in five games at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and finished the 2011-12 regular season with 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 43 games for Leksands.
While Forsberg is the only player in our top-10 prospect list not to have played a season in North America, he certainly didn’t look out of place at the NHL Draft Combine or during the visit he and most of the other elite prospects took to New Jersey to watch a Stanley Cup Finals game.
Forsberg recently shared his thoughts about the Draft Combine and the differences between life in Sweden and North America.
NewYorkIslanders.com: How would you describe your game on the ice to someone who has never seen you play before?
Filip Forsberg: Well, I’m a pretty big-sized, offensive skilled player, trying to use my good hands and my shot to be a threat against opponents, and to create scoring chances for myself and also my teammates. I can play a bit physical too, and I’m trying to improve that every day.
NYI: Have you spent much time in North America before coming to the draft combine?
FF: I’ve been to Canada two times before, and the U.S. once, so I’m pretty new in this part of the world.
Five things to know about Filip Forsberg
1. At age 16, Forsberg was called up from his junior team to play 10 games for Leksands IF in Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan (second division).
2. He scored 17 points in 43 games for Leksands in 2011-2012, his first full season playing against grown men.
3. He was the youngest player on Sweden’s gold medal-winning squad at the 2012 World Junior Championships.
4. Forsberg is ranked first among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting heading into 2012 NHL draft.
5. Although not related, he models his game after five-time NHL All star Peter Forsberg.
NYI: What kinds of things do you think are going to be a big challenge for you coming over and playing in the U.S. or Canada?
FF: Of course, there are so many good players that you have to compete against every day. That’s of course going to be tough. And then I think that there will be a pretty big difference with the social life off the rink. I live in a pretty small town back in Sweden right now, and moving over to a brand new country, I think it will take some time to fit in. But when it’s time I think I will do that pretty well.
NYI: Can you talk about last season playing for Leksands, as far as the things you did well, and the things that you would like to improve on.
FF: My team had a pretty good season. We ended up in the qualification round, trying to take a step up to the higher Swedish league, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it this year. We have almost the same team this coming season, so hopefully we can take a step up this season. I won gold at the World Juniors, and I think that was the highlight of this season.
NYI: Who were some of your favorite players growing up?
FF: Like most of the Swedish guys, Peter Forsberg was my favorite player. It was kind of cool that we share the same last name. I liked watching him play, because he was a very good hockey player.
NYI: Do you have any expectations for the draft in Pittsburgh?
FF: I’ll just try to enjoy it as much as possible. I will be there with my mom, dad and my brother. We’ll try to enjoy the time there. It will only happen once, and I just want to take in as much as possible and have fun there.
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