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NHL Draft 2019: Los Angeles Kings Select Tobias Björnfot with 22nd Overall Pick

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The Swede is a safe, but solid option on defense with great leadership skills

NHL: NHL Draft Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The draft is always a wash and outside of the first couple of picks, there’s rarely any guarantee. But, at #22, Tobias Björnfot looks like a great choice.

The Basics

Born: April 06, 2001 (Age 18)
Place of Birth: Upplands Väsby, Sweden
Position: D
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 203 lbs.
Shoots: Left
2019-20 Team: Djurgårdens IF // 2019-21

Rankings

Ranked #37 by THE ATHLETIC
Ranked #30 by HOCKEYPROSPECT.COM
Ranked #36 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS
Ranked #27 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #19 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #7 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)
Ranked #36 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #27 by TSN/McKenzie

Stats

via EliteProspects.com

What’s the deal?

Considered a safe pick by many, Björnfot is known more for his leadership than his scoring abilities. Björnfot, whose name apparently translates to “Bear Foot”, captained Sweden’s U-18 team in 2018 when they won gold. His character is a big thing that drew Rob Blake and the Los Angeles Kings to him, as Blake told Sportsnet in an interview.

A left-shooting defenseman, he will never wow anyone with his shooting, but is better known for his smooth skating and excellent defensive skills--perhaps not quite as obvious as is thought to be needed for this position.

Patrik Brexell at sister blog Habs Eyes on the Prize says Björnfot’s SHL coach, Robert Ohlsson, offered effusive praise for the young defender, noting that he is a “strong leader.”

“He might not be spectacular, but he makes it easy for his partner. He is calm, collected, and secure, and he will do the dirty work, too. It is very easy to play beside a player like that.” [...]

Björnfot is strong in the battles along the boards and in open ice. He is not always spectacular, but Mr. Ohlsson points out that “sometimes the hard thing is to do the simple thing right.”

Not flashy or showy like others in the league, Björnfot is content to simply get the job done. And for a team with rumored locker room and culture issues, a little humility can certainly go a long way—especially with management. The Swede appears to have a pretty high hockey IQ, so perhaps one day he can be the next Willie Mitchell: a solid, quiet leader who did his job and was the backbone of the team’s successes in 2012 and 2014.

Many people will argue that goal scoring instincts can’t be taught, which is true. But on the flip side of that, preventing goals can be equally as opponent, particularly for a team that was tenth worst in goals allowed. And anyway, isn’t scoring goals why they drafted Alex Turcotte?

Highlights & Notes