In a normal season, the U18 World Junior Championship (WJC) is often an end-of-season cap on a full season of pre-draft scouting. This year, however, the U18 WJC is the biggest showcase some prospects have to boost their stock for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. With the tournament wrapping up yesterday, Swedish winger Isak Rosén finished with seven goals and nine points in seven games, leading Team Sweden at the international competition.
It was a solid showing for the Stockholm native, who will be a first-round pick come July and could sneak into the top 15. With that said, let’s break down his game.
Isak Rosén - W
Leksands IF [SHL] — 18 — Stockholm, Sweden
Along with leading the Swedes in scoring at the 2021 U18 WJC, Rosén has long been a prolific scorer. At age 14, he led his U16 team in scoring in the 2017-18 season with 19 goals and 38 points in 25 games. He then graduated to the U18 level the following year and totaled 18 goals and 29 points in 28 games in his 15/16-year old season.
After earning his first professional game last season, Rosén spent most of 2020-21 in the SHL with Leksands but scored just one assist in 22 games. In just 12 games with the U20 squad this year, Rosén finished fourth among draft-eligible skaters in the J20 Nationell with 0.667 even-strength, primary points per game.
Rosén’s Scouting Report
|Slippery player who can finesse his way through the D with impressive puck skills||Can be reactive in the defensive zone and float into no-mans land without making an impact|
|Skates well in transition, weaving through layers of D and overwhelming opponents||Sometimes relies too much on teammates winning puck battles and delivering him the puck|
|Excellent skater who uses great knee bend, leg extension and has decent acceleration||Will have less time and space to stickhandle in one-on-one situations at the NHL level|
As I mentioned in my April 2021 NHL Entry Draft ranking, Rosén is best described as slippery. His mesmerizing offensive talent combines well with some of the best skating mechanics of anyone in this draft class and creates a potential top-six winger in the NHL.
But just because he is often slippery doesn’t mean Rosén (#96, white) isn’t tenacious in his pursuit of goals. His skating mechanics and advanced edge work make him an overwhelming player for most defenders when crossing the blue line. As you see above, he swiftly and flawlessly transitions from pass reception into a quick attack on the defender. While he gets held up attempting his deke, he powers through as other opponents coalesce around him, and still manages to bury the puck home.
In this clip, Rosén (#24, white) records his lone SHL point of the year. He starts by reading a clean breakout opportunity well while the opposing team is making a line change. You’ll notice he lacks an elite accelerating gear, but his knee bend and stride recovery show off well here. I like that he recognizes early that he won’t beat the defender to the outside, and he uses a nice stop-and-curl to draw both defenders his way, opening up his teammate for a beautiful goal.
And when I say Rosén (#96, white) can embarrass and overwhelm defenders, above is a perfect example of what I mean.
Overall, I like the angles Rosén takes when forechecking and the vast amount of ice he can cover with his excellent stride extension. When watching the clip above, however, you may feel like his puck support positioning feels a little passive at times, but he’s also expanding the ice the opposing team has to cover due to respecting his skill. A fair knock on his game is his penchant to swoop in on pucks after his linemates have done the hard work, but on this shift, he explodes well into transition and nearly sets up a high-danger scoring chance.
In the defensive zone, Rosén can often be reactive and chase the play at times, but his positioning isn’t bad for someone at this level, plus he’s always threatening to pounce on turnovers at the blue line.
Rosén is extremely confident in his playmaking, shooting, and puck-handling skill, and he should be. But sometimes he lets that convince him to slow down offensive rushes too much, and at higher levels, that won’t fly. In this clip from the U18 WJC, Rosén (#19, blue) stickhandles himself into a dead-end after coming to a complete glide once he hits the blue line on a two-on-one.
At other times though, Rosén uses his speed, like I said, to pounce on breakout opportunities. In this clip, he gets a good jump on his teammates collecting a turnover, and bursts through the neutral zone before crossing a defender and rifling the puck home, displaying his well-rounded shooting skill, too.
As frustrating as Rosén can be with some of his tendencies, I think they’re minor (and fixable) compared to his offensive ceiling at the pro level. I love how he attacks open ice with the puck, how he forces defenders to respect his skill, and how confident he is with the puck.
Expected Pick Range
Due to Colin Cudmore’s retirement from tracking a consolidated entry draft ranking, I’ll be referencing Bob Mckenzie’s most recent list, my own ranking, and the consolidated ranking compiled by Elite Prospects.
McKenzie: #23 — 1st Round
OTF: #12 — 1st Round
Elite Prospects: #21 — 1st Round
I’m clearly higher on Rosén than most. In a draft class as uncertain as this one, I’m betting on his offensive upside and skating talent to boost him at the next level. I’ll also bet that if the Nashville Predators are picking in the late teens or early twenties, Rosén will be around and is a tantalizing option to add to the organization’s forward pipeline.