Otto Stenberg is a playmaking centre the Leafs may select at 28th overall
3 months ago
As the NHL draft’s first round progresses and more players come off the board, teams later in the pecking order will hope that a prospect that teams may have overlooked falls into their laps. Getting an impactful player who a contending team can insert into their lineup fairly quickly can sometimes mean the difference between a mere playoff contender and a Stanley Cup contender.
There is a Swedish player who has scouts conflicted on what to make of him but has the potential to be a great scoring option if his development goes smoothly. He is the subject of the latest entry in my series of prospect profiles for potential Leafs picks.
Otto Stenberg is a Swedish centre that is part of Flolunda HC’s organization. Standing at 5’11” and weighing 181 pounds leading up to the draft, he has an average size with room to grow as he has barely turned 18. He spent the majority of the season with Flolunda’s under-20 team where he produced 26 points (11 goals and 15 assists) in 29 games, but also got a 23-game trial run in the SHL where he amassed a measly three points.
Stenberg is a player that will rise to the occasion and elevate his play when the chips are down as evidenced by his play during the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and Under-18s in Switzerland. He is someone who is exceptional at handling the puck and is confident at making a deke to get around his opponent. This is a player who loves having the puck on his stick because he is great at protecting it under pressure, using his body to fend off defenders, and using his great edge work to give him separation. Once he’s settled in the offensive zone, Stenberg is a dual-threat scorer who has many tricks up his sleeve, ranging from a wicked shot from mid-range, a fake pass to get the space he needs or even a Michigan goal. Combine all that with a competitive player who is always involved in the play at both ends of the ice and you have yourself a first-round-level talent.
One criticism of his game is there are times when he tries too hard and makes things happen instead of letting the game come to him, leaving him vulnerable to turnovers. While he was dominant against players in his age range, he looked lost at times during his stint in the SHL and got outperformed by some of his Swedish U18 teammates. Stenberg acknowledged that adjusting to the speed and size of Sweden’s top league is a priority of his, but now it’s about staying consistent with his game against tougher competition. There have been questions from scouts about how well his game will fare at the NHL level since he is one who relies on having the puck, so working on his two-way game through sequences like puck retrievals in the defensive end will help out in getting him better equipped.
Despite the kinks in his armour, he is a competitive and confident forward who will always be a reliable option for his team when hitting his stride. Given that he tied William Nylander’s record for points by a Swedish player at the U18s, Stenberg has the makings of being a productive top-six forward with excellent puck-handling skills and many tricks in his arsenal.
What the scouts are saying
Ranked #23 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #36 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #12 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #44 by DAILY FACEOFF
Ranked #29 by THE HOCKEY NEWS
Ranked #28 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #22 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #21 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #16 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #23 by HPR/SHANE MALLOY
Ranked #29 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #19 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #22 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff: “Scouts are completely mixed here. The highs are high. The lows are low. He looked out of place in the SHL but was excellent against kids his own age. The raw talent is there, especially as a 200-foot threat that can be dangerous around both nets. His biggest asset might be his play-reads.”
Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “There is a lot to like about Stenberg’s game. He is a strong skater with good hands who can be a threat in transition. His shot is excellent, and Stenberg is often a threat to score from the faceoff dots, although I don’t know if that will be his role on an NHL power play. Stenberg isn’t the biggest forward, but he gives an honest effort every night and doesn’t shy from going into traffic. His hockey sense is good enough to score at higher levels, but he’s certainly more of a shooter than a passer. He’s listed as a center but is likely a pro winger. I could see him as a second- or third-line wing in the NHL.”
Ian Kennedy, Yahoo Sports: “How to define Stenberg’s season? There was a struggle against men in the SHL. There was also brilliance at the U-18 World Championships for Sweden. A good skater with good puck control, more development is on the way for Stenberg, who is trending up.”
Chris Peters, Flo Hockey: “Stenberg has been a somewhat tough evaluation this year in that he’s been a dominant player within his age group, especially internationally, and closer to average-looking at the club level. Despite that disparity, there’s something special about the way he plays. There’s a legitimate drive to Stenberg. He pressures opposing defenses, has good enough puck skills to make defenders miss and can drive play. His last on-ice impression could not have been better as he put up 16 points in seven games for Sweden as they won silver at the World Men’s Under-18 Championship. The question is simply if the top end of his game is something he can repeat night in and night out, because there’s no question he has tools that can make him an impactful forward.”
A player of Stenberg’s calibre is almost certainly going to be taken off the board, but how long he remains available remains a mystery. But if he somehow was still up for grabs when the Leafs are slated to make their first selection of the 2023 Draft, it would be difficult for them to look past what he brings to the table.
He is great at handling the puck, is eager to beat defenders, always competing on each shift, and is a duel-scoring threat. Finding consistency against tougher competition and working on his game away from the puck could scare off some teams, but he is committed to improving those areas and being a more well-rounded player.
Stenberg brings a lot of good things to the table and the Leafs would be happy to acquire his services if he was still obtainable at 28th overall.
Stats from Elite Prospects.
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