Ottawa Senators Top 25 Under 25, #19: Jonathan Davidsson
Another Swedish right-winger gets ready to enter Sens lore
19. Jonathan Davidsson (Reader Rank: 20, Last Year: N/A)
When we look back at these rankings a year from now, there’s a good chance that we’ll be scratching our heads as we wonder why we ranked Jonathan Davidsson so low.
The speedy Swedish right-winger was ranked 22nd in Jackets Cannon’s T25U25 series last year, but took training camp by storm — nearly making a John Tortorella-coached squad as a regular. The 22-year-old has had to battle expectations his whole hockey career, slipping through the draft twice before he was selected as a sixth-round pick (#170) in his third year of eligibility.
Coming into the 2017 NHL Draft, he was ranked as the 105th overall European skater by NHL CSS not because his lack of scoring — Davidsson put up seasons of 1.15 points-per-game and 1.37 points-per-game in the J20 SuperElit before producing 12 points in 44 games as a 19-year-old in the SHL — but due to his strength. Many scouts were worried about his lack of physicality, and didn’t think he had what it takes to battle in tough areas if he moved over to North American ice.
He started to grow in other aspects of his game in 2017-18, where he broke out for 31 points (10G, 21A) in 52 games. His 0.60 points-per-game ranked 5th league-wide among U22 players, and put his production in a similar category to names like Carl Grundström, Pierre Engvall, Robin Kovács, and Jesper Boqvist. While this past year ended with a head injury obtained in his first game as an Ottawa Senators prospect, Davidsson held steady with a 0.57 points-per-game on a slightly weaker Djurgårdens squad. In terms of how his coaches saw him, Davidsson watched his ice-time grow from 14:24/game in 2017-18 (8th among forwards), to 16:47/game in 2018-19 (3rd). Davidsson also regularly received powerplay (PP2) and penalty kill (PK2) minutes in his second season with the club.
Davidsson’s strengths are well-documented. Jarmo Kekäläinen noted that he has top-end NHL speed now, with strong acceleration that allows him to get moving quickly. He has strong hockey sense in the offensive zone, which allows him to make plays at top speed — often trying to set-up his teammates with his passing ability, which is better than his shot. Pierre Dorion had this to say when the Sens acquired Davidsson as part of the Matt Duchene trade:
“Jonathan is a 200-foot player with excellent speed,” said Dorion. “He’s an intense, character player that has non-stop drive and great hockey sense. He projects as a contributor at both ends of the ice.”
His concerns from draft day are still there. While Davidsson’s gotten bigger (5-foot-11, 185 pounds), playing on a smaller ice surface will give the Sens organization a chance to see if he’s strong enough on his feet to take contact on NHL ice. By working on his balance, Davidsson may be able to better hound pucks in the defensive zone, and apply his hockey sense to pressure defenders before transitioning the puck for a zone exit.
Both Grundström and Engvall have made the trek over to North America in recent years, and required some AHL time before getting a chance at their respective clubs. I’d imagine that something similar is in order for Davidsson, especially coming off an injury that rendered him unable to take the ice for the scrimmages at Sens development camp in June. With Belleville set to lose at least Drake Batherson on right-wing, Davidsson may get an opportunity in all-situations to take charge as a 22-year-old. The goal? Force Dorion and co. to think about readjusting their roster come trade deadline to give him some NHL action.
Note: thank you to EliteProspects for the statistics used in this article!