Is Big Forward Ludvig Rensfeldt Worth Drafting?

Updated: June 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm by Jonathan Willis

6’3” scoring forward Ludvig Rensfeldt was Chicago’s second round pick (35th overall) in 2010. Chicago, perilously close to the NHL’s 50-contract limit, opted not to sign him and he will re-enter the draft this year. Is he worth a flyer?

In their 2010 Draft Preview issue, The Hockey News (they ranked him 32nd) described Rensfeldt as a player who raised hopes with strong play early in his draft year, but who disappointed as the season went on. One scout quoted described him this way:

He’s just a solid all-round player. I don’t see him as a guy with any flare. He’s a little too vanilla for me, but he’s a talented kid.

McKeen’s Hockey went into a little more detail on his skillset in their draft preview. In part:

[Runsfeldt] imposes his will due to his physical stature in the trenches and can throw a bone crushing check one shift and shies away from the body the next shift… When he is on his game, he can dominate as he drags players with him to the net due to his formidable leg strength. He could refine his skating technique, but he does an excellent job shielding the puck and making plays down low along the boards. His shot could be his best weapon as it is well disguised and has tremendous torque on it. His wrist shot is one of the heaviest in the draft.

Of course, that was two years ago. Rensfeldt has played another year in Sweden and then a season in the OHL since those scouting reports were written. Still, Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus argues that he’s worth a draft pick:

He’s a commodity because he’s a big body forward with above-average puck skills and fine offensive instincts. Issues scouts have expressed to me have been his choppy skating stride and overall quickness on top of his decision-making sometimes being poor. I find his hockey sense comes and goes as he’ll show impressive vision and other times make some notable mistakes. I don’t think he’ll be picked close to where he went in 2010, but I’d certainly use a mid to late round selection on him.

Given that this is NHL Numbers, what do the statistics show? Put bluntly, they aren’t kind. Here are the numbers:

Season League GP G A PTS
2009-10 SuperElit 39 21 29 50
2010-11 SuperElit 26 17 19 36
2010-11 Elitserien 16 0 1 1
2011-12 OHL 58 22 21 43

“SuperElit” is Swedish junior hockey, while the Elitserien is their top league. Rensfeldt progressed a little from his draft year in the former league, but didn’t take a major step forward in terms of scoring. His poor Elitserien numbers are perhaps forgivable because young players rarely get much ice-time in that league.

His numbers in the OHL, however, are highly disappointing. As a European player playing his first year of hockey in North America, he deserves to be cut some slack because there does tend to be an adjustment period, but even so the numbers aren’t good. Rensfeldt turns 20 in January and he’s a depth scorer in major junior. That just isn’t good enough.

Rensfeldt is still a young player, and not exactly a write-off given his physical gifts, but at this point he’s far more suspect than prospect. He might be worth a pick late in the draft, but he looks more like training camp invite material to me. The fact that he’s heading back to Sweden isn’t exactly good news for his NHL future either.

He might be a player down the road, but he doesn’t look like a good use of a draft pick right now.

Image above is a screenshot of Rensfeldt from a CTV report on the Sarnia Sting.

This week by Jonathan Willis