With the 15th overall pick in the 2012 SB Nation Mock Entry Draft, Silver Seven is pleased to select, on behalf of the Ottawa Senators, Sebastian Collberg from the Frölunda Indians of the Swedish Elite League.
After all, the Senators have had luck drafting undersized Swedish players born in central Sweden and playing for the Frölunda HC system; why not try to see how far this trend can take us? With Collberg, it could take us a good distance--but it could also fall flat. The right winger has dynamic potential, with most scouting reports touting his great skill, tremendous speed, elite-level wrist shot, and scoring capabilities, so the upside is huge even if he's still some time away from joining the NHL squad.
If Collberg makes it to the big league, it will be as a top-six winger, and that's something the Sens are going to need pretty desperately in the coming seasons. Collberg had a great showing in the 2012 World Junior tournament, scoring 7P in 6GP for the gold-medal-winning Swedish team (alongside other Sens prospect Mika Zibanejad), which is quite a feat for a pretty small (more on that later) then-17-year-old forward. Scouts say he possesses elite-level skill, which would fit in well with the next generation of skilled forwards in the Senators system.
Everyone seems mostly concerned with the fact that Collberg is 5'11" and 175 lbs, but I don't see it as a big issue; he's barely 18 years old right now, so there's still plenty of time for him to bulk up (especially since he'll likely play at least one, and probably two, more seasons in the SEL before coming to North America). Also, Collberg was the third ranked European skater at the NHL combine, so it seems like he's already well on his way to building on that frame.
He's said he's likely to stay in the SEL and play a full season with Frölunda to build up on his size and gain more experience playing against older and larger players, so he won't provide any immediate support for the team. That's experience he needs, since he one-upped Bill Muckalt and scored zero points in 41GP with Frölunda this past season; most of that lack in production can likely be attributed to the typical reticence of SEL teams to play young players (especially ones as small as Collberg).
Finally, his defensive awareness has also been criticized, but that shouldn't come as a surprise for an 18-year-old winger. Defensive awareness and responsibility typically comes with more pro experience, and he'll get more of that next season in the SEL.
Most Sens fans will be looking to draft a defenceman with this pick, particularly given the depth of defenders present in the draft and the fact that Ottawa won't pick again until the third round (unless a trade is made between today and the draft). But given Bryan Murray and the front-office staff's commitment to drafting the best player available, it seems unlikely that a D-man will be drafted--especially considering the fact that Ottawa needs immediate support on the blue line, and few 18-year-olds are capable of playing serious NHL minutes. Ottawa should draft the best player available, and, given his elite skill and huge potential, that player is Collberg.
Secondly, Collberg seems like the kind of guy Murray likes to draft. Despite positional differences, he does have a lot in common with Erik Karlsson at this point in his career, and after drafting Karlsson, Murray said, "I like big, strong guys but I also like high-end skill people that do things with the puck and create offence." I think the very high-end skill that Collberg possesses will offset the fact that he isn't a "big, strong guy" in Murray's scouting report.
Although I haven't seen him play so I'm not really able to make comparisons, others have compared him to Ales Hemsky, Mike Cammalleri, and Jeff Skinner. Based on reports I've read, though, he sounds like he could develop into someone like Martin Havlat if his development goes well, although he's smaller than the former Senators winger.
The scouting reports:
- Silver Seven Sens (read this one especially!)
- The Cannon
- Defending Big D
- Hockey Wilderness
- Elite Prospects
- The Hockey Writers
- My NHL Draft
- The Scouting Report
- Last Word On Sports
So, what do you think: Is Collberg a good fit for the Senators?