The Vancouver Canucks’ prospect pool continues to shine in this 2017-18 season.
While you can point to Elias Pettersson’s dominance in the SHL as the shiniest of the gems, there are plenty of other reasons to be excited about the future.
Last year’s second round picks Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich are trending well, and Olli Juolevi is off to an impressive start in the top Finnish league in his draft+2 season.
But perhaps the most impressive prospect not named Pettersson is the one the Canucks got for Alex Burrows at last year’s trade deadline – Jonathan Dahlen.
Playing for Timra IK in the Allsvenskan – the second best professional league in his home country – Dahlen has been producing at an exceptional rate.
The 19-year-old picked up a goal and assist on Friday to move up to 22 points on the season, with the goal coming on a nifty wrist shot.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) December 1, 2017
His 22 points in 16 games has him third in league scoring, despite missing the first seven games of the season. Interestingly, the leading scorer Alex Friesen was a former Canucks prospect; a sixth round pick in the 2010 draft.
Dahlen’s production puts him well ahead of his pace last season, when he nearly scored at a point-per-game pace (44 points in 45 games).
A pace not seen in years
While his numbers look good, it’s when you sort by points-per-game where you truly get a sense of how dominant Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2016 draft (42nd overall) has been.
Aside from Victor Öhman (who’s played only four games), Dahlen’s 1.38 points-per-game tops everybody in the Allsvenskan this season by a fair margin.
And it goes beyond this season.
The last time a player in the Allsvenskan played 16 or more games in a season with a points-per-game of 1.38 or higher was back in 2008-09, nine seasons ago.
Dahlen’s pace is the best the league has seen in nearly a decade, and like Pettersson in the SHL, he’s doing it without much offensive support from his teammates.
Dahlen’s 1.38 points-per-game is more than double that of his next highest teammate, which should tell you all you need to know.
What happened, and what happens next
While Dahlen is producing very well, this was not how the Canucks envisioned this season would go for him. After all, part of the reason his pace is unmatched in the last nine years could be due to the best players moving on to higher competition.
The Canucks wanted Dahlen to play in Utica, but an untimely case of mono derailed that plan.
He missed precious training camp time due to the illness, and couldn’t earn a spot in the top six over other young players in Utica, which forced the Canucks to send him back to Sweden.
Because of his late start into the season, he couldn’t get in with an SHL team and thus, the Canucks loaned him back to Timra.
Fortunately, the Canucks may not have to wait the entire year to get their wish.
Dahlen’s contract includes an out-clause that kicks in on January 31, allowing him to either move to the SHL or return to North America. If he keeps this up, it’s hard to envision him staying in the Allsvenskan much longer.
After Burrows was traded, he said one of the reasons he was willing to waive his no-trade clause was to help the Canucks for the future.
“I want these next generation (of Canucks players) – the young Bos, Hutton … and Jake – to play well in a few years and have good prospects coming back and help them achieve a Stanley Cup in Vancouver. I’d be really happy for those guys and all the fans in B.C. and Vancouver.”
It’s still early to say for sure, but it looks like Dahlen could be on his way to becoming the kind of impact player Burrows hoped he would be traded for.