Saturday, June 4, 2011

E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120: Magnus Hellberg #40

By Eldon MacDonald

40. Magnus Hellberg - “Mr. Big” - G – Sweden

Vitals: Size - 6’5”, 185 lb.; Shoots left; Born: 4-Apr-91
Team: Almtuna, Allsvenskan (SWE 2)
2010-11 Stats: 31-2.04-.936 + SWE 2 playoffs 5-3.24-.908

40 - E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120
60 - NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings (2nd European goalie)
99 - Christopher Ralph's Top 210
Draft result:
38 - Nashville Predators

Every year I try to identify a darkhorse or sleeper player who will be drafted much higher than his rankings. In 2007, I picked this guy with a big slapper who I suggested could go in the second round and was ridiculed on hfboards. The guy (Josh Godfrey) ended up going 34th. In 2008, I was living in Mexico so I didn’t get to follow hockey that much. Hockey Night in Mexico consisted of buying a Domino’s thin crust pizza with extra jalepenos, a few cervezas and trying to watch an NHL game on my laptop (with a bunch of other ex-pats) on an internet speed that usually wasn’t up to bringing the picture. In 2009, I was determined, no matter how much ridicule, to stick with my sleeper pick. So I picked Mikko Koskinen at 31 and he came in at exactly 31. By now, I was getting pretty cocky and thought I had it locked in for 2010 when I picked Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel in the second round. Unfortunately for my prediction skills, Fredrik went in the fifth to Atlanta (now Winnipeg). So this year, I thought I had the sleeper pick aced again when I picked Magnus Hellberg to go in the second round as the first European goaltender picked. However, NHL Central Scouting ended up ranked Magnus as the second best European goaltender so Magnus was no longer a sleeper - nobody can keep a secret these days!!!

So why is Magnus Hellberg ranked so high??? Well, for starters he was so good this season that his team (Almtuna in the Allsvenskan - Swedish Tier 2 Professional League) loaned out their starting goalie (my sleeper pick from last year, Fredrik Petterson-Wentzel) to another team. Secondly, he ended the season with an amazing .936 save percentage, second in the league. Thirdly, Swedish teams from the Swedish Elite League (Elitserien) took notice and Frölunda signed him for next year. Fourth, he had a great goalie coach in Micce Andreasson who coincidentially will also be his goalie coach at Frölunda next year. Maybe, the team that drafts him should ask Micce to come over too as part of the bargain.

So what type of goalie is Magnus Hellberg? Four words cover the essentials:
  1. Size = big, even huge at 6’5”.
  2. Calm = zen-like focus and concentration; allows the rest of the team to concentrate the other parts of the game
  3. Agility = Magnus be nimble, Magnus be quick, Magnus can jump over that hockey stick. Magnus uses his agility to recover better than most.
  4. Positioning = Magnus is very good at positioning to cut down the angles.
As for weaknesses, Magnus does not have a glaring ones but he is focusing on improving his leg and body strength as well as fine-tuning the other parts of his game.

I suspect that Magnus will play for Frölunda next year to stick with his goalie coach but he would be eligible to play in the AHL as he has already been passed over twice in the draft. The only real question left is - can he challenge John Gibson for the first goalie chosen in the draft - answer to follow this month on day one (first round) or day two (the other rounds) of the draft.


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