Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Returning Winterhawk Profile: #27 Oliver Bjorkstrand

(Editors Note: In the countdown to the season opener on September 19th; I will be looking, individually, at each returning Winterhawk, who looks to be on the opening night roster).

Next up (in numerical fashion): #27 Oliver Bjorkstrand

Born: 4/10/1995
Hometown: Herning, Denmark
How Acquired: 1st Round (#26 Overall) CHL Import Draft in 2012

NHL Drafted: Columbus Blue Jackets 3rd Round Pick (#89 Overall) in 2013. Signed on 12/27/2013.

-2012/13: 65 Games Played, 31 Goals, 32 Assists, 63 Points, +38, 10 Penalty Minutes.
              Playoffs: 21 GP, 8 G, 11 A, 19 Pts, 4 PIMs.
-2013/14: 69 GP, 50 G, 59 A, 109 Pts, +44, 36 PIMs.
              Playoffs: 21 GP, 16 G, 17 A, 33 Pts, 8 PIMs.

-Bjorkstrand wowed Hawks fans instantly with 3 goals in his first 2 games in a Hawks sweater. He played for his hometown team the Herning Blue Foxes of the Danish Professional League with his older brother Patrick and so immediately adjusted to top level play pretty easily. With his wicked wrist shot and his hard one timer, he could score at any level. Goal scoring was not the struggle for Bjorkstrand, it was other areas of the game that needed to adjust.

He came into Portland at 6'0" 165 lbs and has put on about 10 lbs since then, but this lack of size is what is holding him back from already being in the NHL. He has such an elite combination of stick-handling, offensive awareness and nose for the net that the only thing truly keeping him from playing at the next level is this. He can definitely overcome this with a lot of hard work in the wight room in the offseason, but for now, we get the treat of him playing  in a Portland sweater for one more season.

Despite his size, Oliver is great at working in tough areas and has not shied away from contact since day one. In his first season he was targeted and knocked off his feet consistently. Last season he got a lot better at keeping his feet. This showed in the playoffs where he led the WHL in scoring with 33 points in 21 games.

-Bjorkstrand will assuredly have a long training camp with Columbus, as evidenced by his 3 goals and 1 assist in 3 games at the Traverse City tournament this past weekend. His offensive skills alone will be enough to intrigue Columbus into keeping him around for at least a few preseason games. He should also miss time at the World Junior Championships with Denmark, who he helped qualify for the tournament last season out of the relegation bracket last year.

The 60+ games Portland will get him for should be a treat as he is expected to play on the top line with Nic Petan and Paul Bittner. He should also reprise his role of terrorizing WHL teams on the top power play by sitting in the slot waiting for the perfect feed from Petan. He had 17 power play goals last season and should improve on that this season. Another deadly part of his game is his role as a second unit penalty killer. He had 4 short handed goals last season and he had an insane one in which he danced around2 defenders and a goalie in the preseason, so this should improve as well.

Previous Returning Winterhawk Profiles: Dominic Turgeon, Alex Schoenborn, Nic Petan Tyson Predinchuk, Keegan Iverson, Adam De Champlain, Chase De Leo, Paul Bittner, Josh Hanson, Ethan Price, Anton Cederholm, Brendan Burke

No comments:

Post a Comment