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Prospect Update: Axel Andersson
By Thomas Harrington
Acquired from Boston as part of the Ondrej Kase deal, defenseman Axel Andersson played in the HockeyAllsvenskan and the AHL this past season.
Andersson was supposed to be in the AHL this year. However, because of the pandemic, he started the season playing for Sodertalje SK in the HockeyAllsvenskan. Unlike most Anaheim prospects, when the ECHL and AHL started their seasons, he stayed in Europe to finish the season. Overall, he played in 51 games for Sodertalje and scored two goals and 11 points.
In April, once Andersson was done in Europe, he came to North America and joined the Gulls for the rest of their season. With San Diego, he played in 17 games and scored two goals and five points. He played on all three of the Gulls’ defensive pairings. Andersson played in all three of San Diego’s playoff games and recorded one assist, while primarily playing on the team’s second defensive pairing.
Andersson didn’t really meet the expectation that I set for him last year, but that’s less his fault and more due to the situation. I wanted him to spend the entire year in the AHL and not play at all in the ECHL. Well, he played mostly in Europe, so that expectation doesn’t really feel like it can be used as a metric for this past season. However, when he was in North America, he only played in the AHL, so that’s a good sign.
This coming season should be Andersson’s first full season playing professional hockey in North America and it’s expected that he’ll be with the Gulls. He’ll be fighting for playing time on a relatively deep defensive unit. Trevor Carrick, Kodie Curran, Simon Benoit, Brendan Guhle, Josh Mahura, and Hunter Drew all spent most of last season with the Gulls, and all of them are signed through next season or beyond.
I have two expectations for Andersson this coming season. First, to establish himself in San Diego’s top four. Second, to become a threat on San Diego’s power play. As a right-handed shooting defenseman with some offensive upside, he’s a player who could become a great producer on the man advantage.
I don’t expect Andersson to make it to the NHL this coming season. Let him spend at least a year in San Diego and really learn the system that the Ducks play. If he can excel in it, I could see him making his NHL debut as soon as the 2022-2023 season.
Andersson has two years remaining on his entry-level contract and he’ll be a restricted free agent when it’s over. Teams covet right-handed shooting defensemen, which was one of the reasons why the Ducks traded for him in the first place. Even if he hasn’t made it to the NHL yet, I do expect Anaheim to qualify him and give him at least a one-year two-way deal. If he’s established himself in the NHL, it could be for quite a bit longer than that, but we’ll have to wait and see how he does in his first full season in North America.
The next prospect update will be on Maxim Golod.
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September 13th, 2021