TLN Top Prospects 2016: #14 Carl Grundstrom

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For all the questions and criticism the Leafs received for this summer’s draft, one pick that was almost uniformly met with positivity was Carl Grundstrom.

With the pick they received from Washington in the Winnik deal, Toronto looked to their Euro scouts, perhaps more specifically Thommie Bergman, who’s unearthed some valuable prospects from the Tre Konor over the years.

Grundstrom comes by way of Sweden’s top tier men’s league – where he’s played the last two years – and that makes him particularly intriguing (and perhaps a little hard to read) compared to some of the other mid-pack prospects on our list. Based on the votes, the TLN group is relatively high on him. 

The Votes

Jeff Ryan H. Shawn Ryan F. Adam Dom Jess Katy Readers
14 13 13 9 15 17 16 N/A 17

This is Grundstrom’s first summer in the Leafs organization.

Player Bio

Position Hometown Height Weight Hand 2015 Team Acquired
LW/RW Umea, SWE 6’0 194 L MODO Hockey 2016 Draft (2-57)

The Stats

 SEASON AGE TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP NHLe PIM +/-
 2010-11 12  IF Björklöven U16  U16 SM 3 1 0 1 N/A 0 N/A
 2011-12 13  IF Björklöven U16  U16 SM 6 5 2 7 N/A 4 2
     IF Björklöven J18  J18 Allsvenskan 5 0 1 1 2.5 2 -2
 2012-13 14  IF Björklöven J18  J18 Elit 19 10 8 18 11.37 24 12
     Sweden U16 (all)  International-Jr 11 4 4 8 N/A 14 0
 2013-14 15  MODO Hockey J18  J18 Elit 8 7 8 15 22.5 10 20
     MODO Hockey J18  J18 Allsvenskan 10 12 4 16 19.2 37 12
     MODO Hockey J20  SuperElit 31 6 4 10 4.84 6 -6
     Sweden U17 (all)  International-Jr 13 6 4 10 N/A 8 -2
 2014-15 16  MODO Hockey J20  SuperElit 27 21 15 36 20 53 15
     MODO Hockey  SHL 24 2 3 5 9.37 8 -4
     Sweden U18 (all)  International-Jr 20 9 8 17 N/A 20 3
 2015-16 17  MODO Hockey  SHL 49 7 9 16 14.69 53 -2
     Sweden U20 (all)  International-Jr 20 4 4 8 N/A 16 2
 2016-17 18  Sweden U20 (all)  International-Jr 3 2 1 3 N/A 0 N/A

Projection Stats

pGPSn pGPSs pGPS% pGPS PPG pGPS PP82 pGPSr
31 (10/18) 14 (10/18) 45.2% (5/18) 0.61 (5/18) 50.28 (5/18) 27.69 (6/18)

  • pGPSn: The number of matches between the subject and the player-seasons (one season by a single player, i.e, John Tavares 2008 OHL) in the historical sample.
  • pGPSs: The number of statistical matches that became NHL regulars. This is determined by playing 200 NHL games.
  • pGPS%: Simply s divided by n, this is the percentage of statistical matches that successfully became NHL players.
  • pGPS PPG: The NHL points per game of successful matches.
  • pGPS P82: The same as pGPS PPG, but stretched over 82 games.
  • pGPSr: A bit of a hybrid number, this pGPS Rating combines the percentage and points per game to produce a number that includes both likelihood of success and potential upside.

Based on the success of his historical comparables, Grundstrom is projected to become a second line forward.

To learn more about the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System, check out this post.

The Eye Test

Grundstrom is known as a pretty complete player (considering his age), a two-way winger who can pour on the shots and drive the net hard. He’s spent the entirety of his career to date in Sweden, so our exposure to him here on this side of the pond is obviously limited. But he has suited up in international tourneys at essentially every junior level, including the U20 World Juniors as a draft-eligible – an accomplishment on its own.

Scouts are somewhat split on his skating ability and the sandpaper portion of his game, but generally agree he plays a high energy style on both sides of the puck. Here’s what Corey Pronman had to say about Grundstrom heading into the draft a couple months ago:

Grundstrom’s skill level has stood out to me, and he showed the ability to make high-end skill plays, but he really excels in playing a two-way forward-type of role. He has decent strength for a player his age, kills penalties well and has a little edge to his game. Grundstrom also shows slightly above-average speed, on top of pretty good puck skills. He’ll occasionally make a highlight-reel type of play, but his hands and vision more consistently show as merely above-average. 

As Seen On TV

The Buildup

The most important thing about Grundstrom’s career in the SHL up until now is that he fits the 51% rule. Just throw everything else out the window, this guy’s going to be an NHL player. 

What is this magical rule? Buckle up.

From Shawn Reis back in May:

…since the inception of the Swedish Hockey League back in the mid-70s, 51% of all players that played in that league under the age of 18 that also had a points per game of at least .09, ended up playing 200 NHL games or more. That even included players that played as little as a handful of games in the league.

Grundstrom’s 0.21 points-per-game easily fits the criteria, and as such all we have to do is sit back and wait for this star to shine.

But seriously, Grundstrom’s been a solid pro, and his experience in an adult league is impossible to overlook. While he hasn’t been much of scorer at that level yet, keep in mind William Nylander wasn’t either in his draft-eligible year. 

Next Season

“Next season” has basically already started for Grundstrom, as he’s already scoring for his new Frolunda team in their preseason schedule. Grundstrom made the move from MODO to Frolunda this summer, as the former was relegated from the top league. Given he’s got a new home with a much stronger club (the defending champs, in fact), we can expect an uptick in his production.

He won’t be a Marlie, so it’s unfortunate that Leafs supporters aren’t going to see much of Grundstrom this season, but he should be an easy choice to suit up for the World Juniors team again – this time with an increased role.

Closing Thoughts

Grundstrom was seen a solid selection by most at the time of the draft, and it seems as though he’s viewed as the Leafs’ best pick outside of Matthews to a lot of folks. That’s mostly notable because Korshkov was taken nearly a full round ahead of him. It’s also reflected in our voting, as Grundstrom hits this list a few spots ahead of the KHL product.

The Rankings So Far