So, you thought we were done handing out grades, huh?
Not so fast, my friend. It’s time for the bonus round! First up: Pontus Åberg.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before – a young, quick European forward made an impact for the Nashville Predators last season.
Okay, I’ll stop myself.
What Pontus Åberg did in the 2016-17 season wasn’t Earth-shattering by any means, but the 23-year-old made strides from what was a slow start to the campaign.
Åberg played nine games in November with Nashville, scoring one goal and adding one assist. However, his ice time fell off toward the end of the month, cratering at 8:24 in a 5-3 victory at Colorado. On Dec. 5, Åberg was headed back to Milwaukee, where he began the season.
He had two more short stints in Nashville during the regular season, seeing six games between Jan. 10 and Feb. 12, but went pointless in those efforts.
By the time the American Hockey League regular season had wrapped, Åberg finished with 31 goals and 52 points in 56 games with Milwaukee.
An injury to Colin Wilson opened up a spot for Åberg in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Chicago, and he wound up playing 16 postseason contests – one more than he had in the regular season with the Predators.
The end result was two goals and three assists in that stretch. One of those goals is his…
Best and Worst Moment of the Year
How about a game-winner for your first postseason goal? I woke up an entire floor in a Louisville hotel on that Saturday night when Åberg potted this one.
Easily debatable for best moment is his other postseason goal, a true beauty that undressed Matt Murray and left Olli Maatta grasping for air.
This one does get bonus points for Jim Hughson’s call. I’ve enjoyed his work ever since NHL 98.
In a somewhat cruel twist of fate, the same play that produced the Game 5 winner in Anaheim also covers the other end of the spectrum. Åberg was immediately pulled from the contest after scoring, and put through concussion protocol after he face-planted on the ice at the other end seconds earlier. He lost a tooth (reportedly his fourth), but gained a ton of fans in the process.
FINAL GRADE: B
A note on this grade: He was much better in the postseason, but November can’t be ignored. It’s such a limited sample size, however, so his playoff performance does drive this grade A LOT. I like what Åberg brings to the table.
Trending up or down?
Up. A lot like most of the young forwards, Åberg is headed in the right direction. Whatever he drank in Milwaukee last year, let’s hope he stocked up for a full year in Nashville.
His efforts were rewarded with a new contract and he’ll get his shot right out of training camp, which only helps the Preds’ Scandanavian/60. In all seriousness, however, Åberg looked like a different player upon returning from the Admrials to play in the postseason.
There’s potential for him to be a 20-25 goal scorer - in time - but that will depend on his deployment and linemates. It’s not hard to like him, however, which seems to fall right in line with the rest of the dressing room.
What grade would you give Pontus Åberg
This poll is closed
Do that thing with the Å again