– Tobias Björnfot –
Djurgårdens IF (SHL) | Defence | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible
Upplands Väsby, Sweden | April 6th, 2001 | 6-foot, 190-pounds
The 2019 NHL Draft is loaded with elite young talent.
However, this year’s class lacks an abundance of promising young defencemen. In fact, as few as two defenders could be chosen within the top-10 overall come June of 2019.
Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings
Fortunately, defenceman Tobias Björnfot’s impressive and growing game could allow for the presence of an additional defender within the top-10 overall. Although scouts and analysts alike are torn with respect to Björnfot’s game and its potential, the native of Upplands Väsaby, Sweden has wasted little time establishing himself as an elite NHL prospect in 2018-19.
What exactly makes Björnfot’s game so tantalizing and impactful, you ask?
- Hockey Sense
Like many dynamic defencemen these days, Björnfot’s game is founded upon his elite skating abilities.
Capable of darting throughout the ice at a high rate of speed, Björnfot can lead the rush up or ice wheel back into the defensive zone with relative ease. Light-footed and known for his fluid stride, Björnfot is incredibly agile — a facet of his game which allows Björnfot to smother attacking forwards before transitioning the puck up ice.
In the offensive zone is where Björnfot has the greatest ability to impact the outcome of any given game.
Capable of manning the blue line with both poise and confidence, Björnfot distributes the puck to his teammates extremely well and generates substantial point totals as a result. What’s more is that Björnfot boasts a stellar shot defined by its quick release — he can beat surprised goaltenders clean if they pay too much respect to his playmaking abilities.
As a player who can feel the pace of play and dictate the momentum within it, Björnfot is developing into a reliable two-way defender. With SHL experience under his belt at the age of 17-years, Björnfot’s maturity will certainly bode well for his value come the 2019 NHL Draft.
- Defensive Positioning
Given his young age, it should come as little surprise to learn that Björnfot will need to improve his personal strength in the coming years, and especially so if he wishes to ascend to the NHL-level fairly quickly.
Although he stands 6-feet and 190-pounds, Björnfot can be pushed off of the puck somewhat easily and can — depending on the situation — struggle to defend opposition of significant size. Until able to brace himself adequately using his lower body strength, the possibility to best Björnfot through the use of physicality will continue to exist.
Related: 2019 NHL Prospect Profiles
One other area of Björnfot’s game which must also improve is the youngster’s positioning in the defensive zone. At times, Björfot can lose track of his respective attacker and is forced to battle to re-gain coverage.
Ultimately, although his defensive play is strong, room for improvement absolutely exists.
Having assessed Björnfot’s strengths as well as his weaknesses, it is abundantly clear that the budding Swedish star could very well develop into a top-four defender at the NHL-level.
Although his game isn’t perfect, Björnfot’s ability to impact the game at both ends of the ice is both consistent and dramatic. If able to iron out the few kinks currently present within his game, Björnfot could progress into a minute-eating defender capable of being utilized in all situations.
While he was slightly overlooked early on in the 2018-19 season due to his ongoing development in Sweden, expect an eager NHL franchise to nab Björnfot early in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft.