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Bjornfot impressing Kings with two-way game

Defenseman who was No. 22 pick in 2019 Draft draws comparisons to Lindholm

by Dan Greenspan / Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Tobias Bjornfot was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2019 NHL Draft as much for how he leads as how he plays.

To the 18-year-old defenseman, chosen with the No. 22 pick, each trait comes from the same place.  

"I like to take big responsibility on the ice and off the ice too, so I think I'm a natural," Bjornfot said during Kings development camp in June.

Bjornfot, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Kings on July 14, presented himself well in each area last season, with 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 39 games for Djurgardens in Sweden's junior league and was Sweden captain when it won the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

Forward Samuel Fagemo, selected by the Kings in the second round (No. 50) of the 2019 draft, said he was not surprised to see Bjornfot succeed for his team and country. Fagemo played with Bjornfot when Sweden finished third at the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Championship and against him in Sweden's junior league.

"He's a calm person," Fagemo said. "He's a good teammate, and I think he's the same on the ice, too. Calm, big on the puck, strong. Not that tall, but he's competing."

Video: Kings draft D Tobias Bjornfot No. 22

Bjornfot (6-foot, 202 pounds) has the tools to play a composed and well-rounded game on each end of the rink. He showcased strong skating and good instincts during the four-day development camp, drawing comparisons to Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm.

"I would say as far as my game we are pretty similar, me and Hampus," Bjornfot said. "I can watch many different Swedes, but in my defensive part of my game, I like to watch Hampus Lindholm."


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Bjornfot is working hard to be more assertive in his offensive game, especially when it comes to learning how to generate more power with his one-timer and slap shot.

"I think I have a good puck IQ and make good passes on the power play, but I need to be a bigger threat and take more shots," he said.

Former NHL executive Mike O'Connell, now a senior adviser to Kings general manager Rob Blake, was impressed with the skill set Bjornfot showed during development camp.

"He's an excellent prospect who moves beautifully laterally on the offensive blue line," O'Connell said. "Good shot, head's up, positioning's good."

O'Connell wasn't able to provide an initial judgment on Bjornfot as a leader, being in an unfamiliar environment days after he was drafted and English being his second language. However, O'Connell said the leadership Bjornfot has shown in Sweden bodes well.

"If you look throughout the League with the Swedish players coming over and [taking] leadership roles … if he's going to be one of those, he's got some good pedigree," O'Connell said.


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