The Boston Bruins have a star in the making, his name, Axel Andersson.
That’s right, the nineteen-year-old smooth skating Swedish born defencemen is destine to play in the NHL.
It’s not a matter of how, it’s a matter of when.
Andersson’s presence in the Moncton Wildcats line up is simply a game changer for an organization looking to make a run at the President Cup and Memorial Cup this season.
I realize Andersson has only played four games so far, but this kid is off the charts.
Ok, I get it, you’re probably thinking, here’s another B’s fan over exaggerating.
I really can’t stress how good of a hockey player Axel Andersson actually is.
Yes, I know he’s only played in less than a handful of games at the QMJHL level, but he’s just a special player.
I’ve been in the scouting business for a while now, I realize projecting and making comparisons are part of the process, so I’m going to be as objective as I can.
It’s going to be hard, but I’m putting my B’s fandom aside.
Shipping Up to Boston
To be brutally honest, I haven’t seen a defencemen this polished play for the Moncton Wildcats since Keith Yandle.
Andersson is perhaps as pro ready as Yandle was back then.
Yandle burst onto the scene in the Hub City during the 2005-2006 season when the Wildcats hosted the Memorial Cup.
The Boston, Massachusetts product put up outstanding numbers that year scoring 25 goals and adding 59 assists in 66 games. The highly skilled transitional defencemen also amassed 20 points in 21 playoff games for the Cats.
Unfortunately, the Cats lost in heartbreaking fashion on home ice to Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts led by none other than Alexander Radulov and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Obviously, Yandle was only in the Hub City for one year, but he was clearly a man playing amongst boys that season in the Q.
Now, I don’t think Andersson will amass “Yandle” type numbers, but one never knows.
A matter of fact Andersson is already averaging over a point a game, but I think he’s going to dominant in his own unique way.
Oh yeah by the way he’s a man amongst boys as well.
In my opinion, Andersson is lacking a touch of Yandle’s explosive speed, but the young Swed certainly makes up for that with his elite level hockey sense and agility.
In my five seasons covering the Q as a color analyst Axel Andersson is the purest natural skater I’ve seen.
The B’s 2nd rounder is an elite level skater, puck mover and believe it or not defender.
Yes, that’s right, he can play on the defensive side of the puck, as well as anyone.
You see Yandle during his time with the Cats was a “riverboat gambler” he took chances, he was ultra risky and on some nights flat out cheated on the offensive side. Sure the Mass product had a very active and good stick, but nowhere close to Axel Andersson.
Obviously, Yandle has gone on to great things at the NHL level, but at the time, playing on the defensive side of the puck wasn’t his strongest attribute.
Andersson on the other hand, is very accountable defensively. I know he’s a year older than Yandle was, but in my opinion Andersson thinks and processes the game better than Yandle.
The game has changed, and so has the position.
Andersson’s ability to shade over and help his partner and his ability and instinct to find open space as an outlet is truly remarkable.
The kid just thinks the game on entirely different level.
He thinks it like a pro, and skates like a pro and to think he’s only nineteen.
Andersson’s puck skills are again off the charts.
Does he have any weaknesses?
Andersson has a solid shot which may need some work, but that will come with some added strength and maturity.
The talented Swed is very good at fitting it through traffic or while under pressure or duress at the offensive blue line.
His poise with the puck in all three zones and on the offensive blue line resembles most five-year pros.
There’s just no panic in the kid’s repertoire.
So what about the physicality of the North American game?
Keith Yandle did have a mean streak in him at times when he suited up for the Wildcats and it would appear Mr. Andersson does as well.
Andersson certainly hasn’t shied away from the physical side of the game if anything he welcomes it.
I realize it would be easy to compare Andersson to current B’s superstar Charlie McAvoy, but that’s just not fair.
Andersson has all the makings of a top tier defencemen at the next level, but give it time.
He’s going to be a star, however, he does have a few aspects of his game that any nineteen-year-old would have to work on.
It’s clear Andersson needs to get a little stronger and a touch more explosive with his first two or three strides, but when he does look out.
The pride of Jarna, Sweden has the uncanny ability to anticipate the play, accelerate and jump into the seams, move the puck, skate out of trouble, while at top speed.
Is Andersson too reckless or irresponsible?
Andersson provides a calming presence to the Wildcats blue line and essential controls the pace of the game every time he steps on the ice.
Clearly Axel Andersson isn’t Keith Yandle, he’s Axel Andersson and trust me that’s ok.
Can Andersson make the jump to the NHL next year? That’s doubtful.
Does he need more time to develop in Providence? Yes, definitely.
Will he be a star in the NHL? Hell yeah.
It’s not a matter of how, it’s a matter of when.
Axel Andersson is the next Boston Bruins star defencemen in the making, but let’s not rush it, let’s give it time.
Oh yeah by the way it took Keith Yandle 104 games in AHL before he become a regular and a star!