While Nashville fans heard plenty about Nashville Predators prospect Ryan Ellis during the recent World Junior Championships as he captained Team Canada to a silver medal, there was another Preds draft pick who also played a key role on his team: Sweden's Patrick Cehlin. Taken in the 5th round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by Nashville (126th overall), he's currently in his 2nd full season in the Swedish Elite League, patrolling the wing for Djurgardens (Patric Hornqvist's old team) with 3 goals and and 10 assists through 29 games. Currently 5'11" and 175 pounds, he's got a bit of room to grow into an NHL frame, but at 19 years of age, he's got time to do that.
At the World Juniors in Buffalo, Cehlin tied for the team scoring lead with 4 goals and 2 assists in 5 games (missing the bronze medal game due to injury), and was honored as one of his team's Top 3 players during the tournament. started to draw the attention of Predators fans who are always on the lookout for offensive help coming up through the pipeline.
Tonight, we're pleased to share with you one (anonymously provided) well-connected Swedish observer's report on Cehlin's play during the tournament, and his prospects going forward. Many thanks to Seth Lake for arranging to get this analysis featured here at OTF! Follow after the jump for a deeper look at a guy we'll all be watching at next summer's Development Camp in Nashville...
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Playing the entire tournament with Anton Lander and Max Friberg, Cehlin showed some top quality. He was originally going to play with Anton Lander and Gabby Landeskog, which would've been the Swedes' most lethal unit, but the injury of course to Landeskog stopped that in what would've been a very interesting scenario, seeing what Cehlin could do with top talent both at center and opposing wing. The downgrade in talent didn't seem to bother Cehlin, however, as he was in my opinion Sweden's top forward in the tournament.
Obviously he used his great speed to create things in the offensive zone, having his legs moving around all the time, making good offensive decisions with and without the puck. He also worked very hard during the course of the tournament, which sometimes led to confusion, since linemates Lander and Friberg sometimes seemed more interested in backing up, covering the neutral zone while Cehlin kept skating, chasing the D. A little over-excited, of course, but can you really discredit a kid, trying to work too hard? All-around good decisions, didn't give the puck away a whole lot, rather physical for his size as well.
The exclamation point of Cehlin's tournament was his ability to win board battles against bigger, stronger D-men. Against the Czechs and Russians he was working great along the boards, and against Canada he showed absolutely no fear going into the dirty areas, working great both along the boards and in front of the net.
While on the point on the power play, he showed great poise with the puck, making smart decisions not to shoot when there wasn't any traffic, and also avoiding the first set of shin pads every time. Didn't get a lot of shots blocked on the PP, which is a great indication of his improving hockey sense and decision-making.
There wasn't many things to say negatively on Cehlin's play this tourney, however there are always the size- and physicality issues, which he's working on improving and do the best he can of his situation, though. He did however disappear a lot of shifts of the semis, almost as he was trying to hide from the pressure to deliver, excelling earlier in the tournament as one of the go-to guys offensively for Team Sweden. He didn't seem to have any problems handling the pressure of 18,000 Canadian fans against Canada on New Year's Eve, on the other hand, so there might be other explanations to his semi-failures, or just plain and simple a bad day.
And that's not all. SB Nation's fantasy hockey blog, Fantasy Hockey Scouts, had this to say about Cehlin's recent play:
...he was probably the guy that raised his stock the most in my eyes as he looked like a threat whenever I saw him play. He tied for the team lead in scoring with 4+2=6 in six games it looks like the Predators may have another late round Swedish steal, ala Patric Hornqvist.
For those who look at the never-ending pipeline of homegrown defensive talent in Nashville, and wonder if they can master the same feat up front, Cehlin looks like a name to follow, alongside guys like Gabriel Bourque, Taylor Beck, Michael Latta, and others.