No. 23: Andreas Englund (Reader rank: 17, Last year: 13)
22 year old Andreas Englund has been one of the top prospects in the Senators’ organization ever since being drafted out of Sweden in 2014. He debuted at #20 in our 2014 Top 25 Under 25 ranking, and has steadily risen in the ranks ever since. Most fans expected him to continue to improve in 2017-18, hopefully taking on a bigger role with the Belleville Senators and getting to play a few games in the NHL.
Unfortunately, this past season was a somewhat disappointing one for Englund. Although he did log significant minutes in his second season in the AHL, he merely matched his point total from last year, with 10 points in 69 games. He also kicked off the season with a massive scoring drought, as his first and only goal of the season was not scored until March 2018. While he was briefly called up to the big club in December, he did not get to play in an NHL game until Ottawa’s very last game of the season, against the Boston Bruins. It is safe to say that he did not make much of an impression in his very limited ice time.
It certainly wasn’t the season we all expected from him, but it wasn’t exactly a disaster either. For starters, it’s worth pointing out that Englund has never been advertised as an offensive defenseman. Early scouting reports touted his size and physicality, and described him as shutdown defenseman who keeps things simple. That assessment has largely remained accurate throughout his career. At every level, he has put up underwhelming offensive numbers but impressed people with his defensive play and his reliability. He even served as an alternate captain for the Belleville Senators this season.
Englund may very well end up making the NHL in the next few years, but he fell so far down in our ranking this year because he seems to have plateaued. We hardly heard anything about him during the regular season, he was invisible in training camp, and his point totals were exactly the same as they were last year. Say what you will about the value of offensive skills in a shutdown defenseman, but the ability to create offensive opportunities for your team is always going to be an asset at any position, and if Englund can’t even do that in the AHL, we have no reason to believe he’ll be able to bring that to the NHL.
Englund did not get many opportunities to play in the NHL this season because he was not the best defenseman available. The Sens decided, understandably, that they preferred Fredrik Claesson, Thomas Chabot and Ben Harpur. Englund will probably get more opportunities to prove himself in this coming season, with new spots opening up on defense, but it sounds like if he wants that spot, he needs to step up his game.
Honestly, he seems like the kind of player the Sens like a lot and I’m sure he’ll get plenty of opportunities to prove himself, but I do wonder if he is the kind of player the Sens need at the moment. Tough, defensive defensemen are not exactly hard to find, and it seems like Ottawa already has a few of those in Mark Borowiecki and Ben Harpur.
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