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Top 25 Islanders Under 25: Johan Sundstrom at #20

Sources say Johan Sundstrom is in this picture.
Sources say Johan Sundstrom is in this picture.

Should a somewhat obscure Swede drafted in the second round this past summer really be in the top 20 of our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 list?

Four of our six voters said yes, and the other two said, "not even top 25, sir."

One half of that is an issue of (lack of) familiarity and unremarkable stats, and the other half is of Johan Sundstrom's cheerleaders hoping he will be a lot more David Ullstrom and a lot less Robin Figren.

To be clear, Sundstrom at 6'2", 196 lbs is already bigger than Figren -- and it's truly an awful comparison I shouldn't even be making. But it seems hockey people just can't resist lumping countrymen together, so there. (I honestly think a lot of this is because they play in the same leagues, so they invite comparisons based on that standard -- such as Adam Larsson in the SEL vs. Victor Hedman at the same age, and "I never seen that guy but his numbers on eliteprospects are there and he has umlauts like that other guy.")

Top 25 Under 25 mikb M11 CIL Dom KQ Web
Johan Sundstrom
n/a n/a 16 18 17 17

Anyway, our panel of six collected votes in August, after Sundstrom was drafted at 50th overall in June. I'm not sure if these self-patting raves from the Islanders scouts had an influence on those of us who put him on our list:

"He did everything," Gwydir said. "He showed he could shoot the puck; he showed he could generate offense with his speed; he showed he could kill penalties. He was an assistant captain for Sweden and he was used in every important situation."

That was after watching Sundstrom play with the Swedes during the junior evaluation camps -- in games vs. the U.S. -- this summer. But the Islanders partisans are far from the only ones to rate Sundstrom higher than his stats would indicate.

Kirk Luedeke was somewhat lukewarm on him back in January, but also acknowledged there were peripheral signs that Swedish coaches saw more in Sundstrom than was apparent by a few viewings. Meanwhile, The Hockey News' post-draft report was high on the Sundstrom selection, and I've heard enough here-and-there from other prospect watchers to think Sundstrom's reach, mobility, hockey IQ and all-around game hold promise.

He doesn't seem to project as any kind of offensive dynamo, but it's the ones who have watched him most often who argue he will be a good all-around hockey player.

Among Islanders who are under age 25 entering this season, that's good enough to be top 20 for me.


Previous Posts in This Top 25 Under 25 Series

The Top 25 under 25 is an idea conceived (I think) by Oilers blog Copper & Blue and copied elsewhere, incorporated here by popular demand. We cut it off at players who were under 25 going into this season, so Andrew MacDonald, having just turned 25 this month, barely misses eligibility.

For this first edition, we polled LHH authors Keith, WebBard, mikb, myself, and two particularly prospect-focused LHH regulars, CanadianIslesLifer and MatthewM11. We wanted enough to get a decent number of voters but not so much that we make the first run unwieldy. It is absolutely unscientific but with varied enough votes to get us thinking.