The Toronto Maple Leafs made a trade on Day 2 of the NHL Draft, allowing them to select 19-year-old Swedish centre, Pontus Holmberg.
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded their 2019 sixth-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres, receiving a sixth-rounder for this year (156th overall) in order to land Holmberg.
A little older than other prospects at this year’s draft, Holmberg is a left-handed centre who can also play out on the wing.
He’s a little undersized at 5 foot 10 and 174 pounds, and hasn’t played much top-level hockey in his native Sweden.
Last season, he suited up for VIK Västerås HK in the third tier of Swedish hockey – a team that Hockey Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidström played for when they were in the top tier.
Holmberg helped the club achieve promotion back into the Allsvenskan at the first time of asking, after being relegated to the third tier last season.
He performed well in the third tier, earning seven goals and 13 assists in 36 regular season games.
While not spectacular, considering the level of hockey, Holmberg earned international recognition with the Sweden Under-19s.
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He played in a team that included players who were playing regularly in the SHL and Allsvenskan, and Holmberg kept pace with them and earned himself six points (1G-5A) in four games – good for joint-third on the team.
His performances for club and country earned him a brief loan move to top tier side Växjö Lakers, where he made two appearances.
Although he didn’t register any points with the SHL club, he is set to join them permanently next season and continue his development in his homeland.
Holmberg is an interesting late-round selection for the Leafs, who could be hoping that they have landed the next Andreas Johnsson – giving Holmberg a few years to develop in Sweden before eventually bringing him over to the Marlies.
The 19-year-old has clearly impressed enough to earn himself a deal with the SHL’s Växjö Lakers and the Toronto Maple Leafs must have seen something in him that made them jump at the chance to select him with the first pick in the sixth round.
Holmberg is likely still a few years away from playing in Toronto, but it will be interesting to watch how he develops in Sweden’s top league and see if the trade was worth it.
What do you think Toronto Maple Leafs fans? Are you happy with the team’s draft? What do you think of this late-round trade? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!