No. 16: Filip Ahl (Reader rank: 15, last year: 23)
Filip Ahl rises significantly in our rankings this year thanks to an impressive trip to North America. After scoring 0 points in 17 games with HV71 last year in the SHL (averaging just three shifts per game), he took the Ottawa Senators’ advice and entered the CHL Import Draft, being selected 31st overall by the Regina Pats. It ended up being a great option for him, as he put up 48 points in 54 games on the second line, and then followed it up with 18 points in 20 playoff games, helping his team all the way to Game 6 of the league finals. It was a disappointing end to the season, but still showed that Ahl has a lot to give when playing against his peers.
The first thing you hear about Ahl in lots of scouting reports is his size. He’s 6’3” and 212 lbs. If you’re one of those people who’s immediately scared by big prospects though, the rest of his bio is also of note. He was leading the SuperElit in points per game (31 in 18) for HV71 J20 before his underwhelming call-up to the big club. His speed, his puckhandling, and his hockey IQ have all been listed as strengths. It looks like he’s learned how to use his size to shield the puck and to grind down opposing teams on the forecheck.
The questions becomes if Ahl can continue to grow. He wasn’t quite as dominant in North America as people were hoping. Instead of being on the Pats’ top line with Sam Steel and Adam Brooks as projected before the season, he finished 7th on the team in scoring (6th among forwards). At the end of the season, he decided the WHL wasn’t for him, opting to return to Sweden and the SHL with Örebro HK. (You may recognize the name Nicklas Grossmann on their roster.) There are pros and cons to returning to Sweden. On the bright side, he’ll be playing in a league with a much higher level of competition. On the other hand, he’ll likely play fewer minutes, and the likelihood of him returning to North America goes down.
Ahl has a lot of tools that would be useful in the NHL. What remains to be seen is if he can grow to being an NHL-level player. It’ll be at least two more full seasons until we get a real idea of how close he’s going to make it.
And since it’s the cool thing to do, here’s a video looking at his first two SHL points: