Goldman: Forsberg Developing The Right Way
There were some notable names taking part in this year's Blue Jackets development camp. Ryan Murray took the ice in Columbus for the first time, and you also had familiar faces like Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson.
But it was a far lesser-known entity that opened some eyes and got the attention of those in attendance at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Meet Anton Forsberg. Before you ask, no, he's not related to Peter. He's a 19-year-old goaltender that has been in the Blue Jackets' system since 2011, when he was selected in the seventh round (188th overall) near the end of a long draft day at Xcel Energy Center. Not much was known about him at the time, and to this day, he's a bit of an unknown because he has spent his entire career in Sweden.
This year was his first development camp, and Forsberg's cool-customer style was one of the most popular topics of discussion among players, fans, and the coaching staff. Forsberg is your prototypical European goaltender: tall, lanky, and extremely athletic; he's also got the blend of size and athleticism that has made Swedish goaltenders a hot commodity in the National Hockey League.
And based on the way Forsberg has responded to playing at the higher levels of Swedish pro hockey in the last year, it's safe to say he's on the right trajectory to eventually play in the NHL.
"The progression he's shown is what's really encouraging," said Justin Goldman, a pro goalie scout and writer for NHL.com. "You always look to see how goalies compete when they do get their opportunities to come up, play a few games at the higher levels and show their stuff. From everything I've read and heard, Forsberg's right there.
"He can handle it. He seems to be a mentally tough goaltender, and you can really tell if a goalie can hang at a certain level when the speed increases."
The faster game and smaller ice surface in North America are major adjustments for European goalies, but the glimpses they get during instances such as development camps and exhibition games are extremely valuable for their growth as as goaltender, Goldman said.
Throughout development camp at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, it seemed as if Forsberg was always making the tough saves (and making them look easy), and was one of the players in camp that got better as the week moved along. In the past, Clark has talked about Forsberg's footwork and attention to detail, as well as his ability to manage all aspects of his game.
Such a skill set has enabled Forsberg to ascend up the professional ranks in Sweden at a young age. As he enters his 20-year-old season this fall, he should be playing for Södertälje of the Swedish Elite League's second division. Competing at the highest level and having incremental success figures to be a huge part of Forsberg's path to the NHL -- a major step that may not be that far away.
"It seems to me that Forsberg is the kind of goaltender who's only going to keep getting better," Goldman said. "He's not the type of kid to get rattled very easily. As long as that progression continues and he has some success - especially in the Swedish Elite League - that's perfect for him because his confidence benefits.
"When he does eventually make the transition to North America, that confidence is going to parlay over to the smaller ice surface."