When you’re projected to be similar to Blake Wheeler or Antoine Vermette, you know you have a very good chance at being an impactful player in the NHL. For Filip Ahl, he wants to be the next gritty forward you love to hate.
Ahl, like the majority of Swedish prospects, has moved around through a bunch of teams over the past few years. The Jönköping, SWE. native has been a member of the HV71 organization in Sweden since 2011-2012, bouncing throughout the U6, U18, U20 and men’s pro teams ever since. A top ten European draft option, Ahl played with the HV71 J20 junior team at the age of 16 in 2013-2014, much younger than a good portion of the league. He was very impressive in his 24 game stint with the club, putting up 10 goals and 19 points to help his team win the Under-20 championship.
HV71 really thought highly of Ahl that season, giving him a one game stint with the club before the season was over. Yes, he didn’t produce any points and was used sparingly in the game, but Ahl became the youngest player to ever appear with HV71, as well as the ninth youngest in SHL history.
He’d get a more extended stint with the club in 2014-2015, putting up two assists in 15 games with the team in a bottom six role. His real success was back with the junior team once again, however, putting 20 goals into the back of the net and finishing with 42 points in 34 games, good enough to finish first in team scoring despite playing less games than most of his teammates.
Internationally, Ahl is definetly an interesting player. Used more as a checking forward, Ahl had eight points in 13 games for the U18 team in various action this year, but still put up 37 penalty minutes in a brand of hockey that shy’s away from physicality. A year before that, Ahl also saw 13 games of action with the U17 national team, putting up 11 points in 13 games (including four points in five games at the U17 World Hockey Challenge).
The best comparison for Ahl is a bull, not a hockey player. He’s a big power forward with a great mix of skill and strength. His playing style does get him in to trouble, however, with his 53 penalty minutes in his first year of pro being the most in his hockey career to date. Outside of that, the 6’4 winger is a solid skater that takes a lot to knock the puck off of.
When he’s in the offensive zone, Ahl is quick to make a slick pass in front of the net, using great vision to get the puck into to tighter areas. When he decides to keep the puck for himself, Ahl is very agile and can get past some really good defensemen with ease. He’s got solid hands for a guy of his size, but he won’t likely have to use that skill much if he does ever land in the NHL.
Ahl’s intrigue comes from, potentially, where he’s from. While Sweden is known more for a fast, defensive style game, Ahl is an aggressive forward that will scare every defenseman when standing in front of the net. For that reason, Ahl may thrive in a North American setting, considering he plays more of a rough and tumble style. Ahl has a two-year deal with HV 71 starting next year, so after going full-time with the big club, there’s a chance that Ahl will find himself in, you guessed it, the AHL. Ahl’s a project guy that will take a few years to really make an impact in pro, but at 22 or 23, look for him to be a solid third line guy in the NHL.