2012 Draft Prospect Profiles: Sebastian Collberg

CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 3: Sebastian Collberg #15 of Team Sweden scores his shootout attempt on Sami Aittokallio #30 of Team Finland during the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship Semifinal game at the Saddledome on January 3, 2012 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Team Sweden defeated Team Finland 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Height: 5"11

Weight: 174 lbs.

Position: LW/RW

Birthdate: 02-23-94

Hometown: Mariestad, Sweden

Another of the three "bergs" set to make an impact at this year's Entry Draft, Sebastian Collberg is a top-ranked European skater and a speedy, versatile forward with good hands who may just fall to the Flames at 14.

Collberg appeared in 41 games with Frolunda this past season, however he scored no points in the Elitserien. In 21 games with Frolunda's J-20 squad, however, Collberg found the back of the net eight times and accumulated 17 points, and that, coupled with a successful World Junior Championship in which he scored seven points in six games as a 17-year-old, is what has kept him afloat in the first round of many mock drafts across the Interweb.

Similar to Pontus Aberg, whom I profiled a few weeks back, Collberg can play both wings and is known for his swift feet and smooth stickhandling, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of his game is his shot, which has been described as "elite" in many scouting reports.

From NHL Mock Draft:

Extremely agile, Collberg can knife through defenders with aggressive moves to get off dangerous shots. He’s a tenacious battler but still primarily a perimeter player: Setting up along the half-wall to create opportunities for himself and teammates. His playmaking is above-average but don’t be confused – he’s a sniper at heart.

...Collberg’s offensive game is very advanced. He’s played in the Swedish Elite League for most of 2011-12, and while he hasn’t been productive, much of that can be attributed to minimal ice time.

Here's what Collberg had to say about his lack of scoring in the SEL this past season (From Buzzing the Net):

"It was hard, it was just about trying to do my best when I did get out there...There was frustration, of course. I didn't get much chances, only playing five minutes a game. Next year I want to play more minutes, do some more scoring."

Ryan Pike of FlamesNation alludes to a possible cause of Collberg's offensive struggles in his profile of the forward:

...Against men, he [Collberg] wasn't quite fast enough to get away with what he could against the younger players. Most notably, his effectiveness darting in and out of the dirty areas of the ice was significantly lower in Elitserien than it was against the younger players.

The main concern observers have expressed about Collberg is his size and the fact that he could potentially be more of a long-term project, taking his time to grow and gain experience playing against older, stronger players in the SEL before making the jump to North America--but scouts and others have noted that the willingness to engage in the physical side of the game is there despite this.

From Last Word on Sports:

We have been impressed with his willingness to battle along the boards and go to the net, however we are unsure at how well this will translate against bigger opponents at the pro level. He also needs some work on his defensive game as he sometimes can be in the wrong position on the ice.

Indeed Collberg finished his stint in the SEL with a +/- of minus-8, but playing minimal ice time and perhaps playing against better players than he was playing with could be the cause of that. It is rare for any player barely 18 years of age to possess a well-rounded game of equal strength at both ends of the ice, and those that do are typically not hanging around waiting for their names to be called mid-first round. Collberg is young and already has valuable experience playing against men, which he will continue to build--which is, perhaps, one advantage of selecting someone like him over a forward from the CHL.

Collberg appears to have a similar skill set and build to someone like Flames prospect Sven Baertschi, although he could be more difficult to track in terms of his development if he continues playing for Frolunda. There is little sense arguing against the fact that the Flames still have a need for skilled offensive players in their system, and Collberg is certainly that. He's not a safe choice, but with the Flames taking steps away from their typical "fishing holes" in recent years and taking more risks with their approach to drafting more offensively skilled but less physical players, he could fit the bill for Feaster and Co. There's always some risk associated with a mid-round pick, but whether or not the powers that be decide if the potential reward of selecting a guy like Collberg outweighs that risk--or the perceived benefits of drafting a centre or a defenceman--remains to be seen.

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