Skelleftea AIK J20/J20 Nationell
Related: Lukas Dragicevic
Axel Sandin Pellikka is a skilled puck-moving defenseman, who is an agile skater and has the ability to quarterback the powerplay from the backend. He is an excellent skater with lateral mobility and edge work that make him effective at both ends of the ice. Sandin Pellikka is arguably the best offensive defenseman in the entire draft; he has everything you need to be an effective offensive defenseman at the next level: elite skating, a hard, accurate shot, and is one of the best passers in the entire draft. After a solid campaign in the 2021-22 season, where he put up 8 points in 14 games for Skelleftea AIK J18 team and 3 points in 14 games for its J20 team, Axel took his game to another level in 2022-23. He started the season very strong, as he was one of the best players at August’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup. With the J20 team, Sandin Pellikka tallied 13 goals and 26 points in 20 games and also put up 5 points in 15 SHL games. In addition, he appeared in 7 Champions League games and performed very well against older competition. Axel was a significant contributor to Sweden’s U20 World Junior team, and although he only had 1 point in 7 games, he did showcase his abilities as a puck-moving defenseman. Axel Sandin Pellikka has the potential to be a top 4 defenseman in the NHL and should be a top 20 pick with how weak this year’s crop of defensemen is.
Size/Strength Below Average
Physical Play Below Average
Offensive Play Great
Defensive Play Good
Hockey Sense Good
1. Skilled puck mover and agile skater who could be used as a power-play quarterback at the next level.
2. An Excellent skater with lateral mobility and edge work that make him effective at both ends of the ice.
3. Is a dual threat at the top of the umbrella on the Powerplay with his delectable shot and top-notch passing ability.
Areas of Improvement
1. Takes far too many risks with his puck handling.
2. Can have issues at times with defending speed rushes against speedy and shifty offensive players.
3. Has little physicality against attackers cutting into the middle and slot area.
Alex Sandin Pellikka is a mobile, offensive-minded blueliner who likes to activate into the offensive zone. He possesses strong four-way mobility and quick feet and controls the puck with confidence, even under pressure. After being a dominant Swedish defender in juniors, he has progressed to the Swedish pro hockey league, seeing playing time against men a lot older than him. He’s a mobile offensive defenceman with really quick hands and a hard, accurate shot. Axel is great at walking the line, using the threat of his shot with constant fakes to break defenders’ ankles, allowing him time and space to find the best play. Sandin Pellikka appears to be the best Swedish defenseman in the draft with a lot of upsides due to his hockey sense, poise play under pressure, and the way he is able to carry the puck up the ice. Because he is not a big defender and he has been prone to get beat by quicker and speedier forwards, scouts will question his ability to defend top players at the NHL level. As the game continues to get faster and more skilled, teams will be relentless in pursuit of the next Makar, and because of Pellikka’s dynamic skating ability and abilities as an offensive catalyst, it will certainly intrigue teams to use a 1st round pick on him. He is a huge threat on the man advantage, with a rocket of a shot, and his ability to find teammates with his tremendous passing abilities. Like all defensemen in this draft, Sandin Pellikka will need lots of development before he is NHL-ready; he needs to improve on closing caps on speed rushes and cutting down on high risks plays and he needs to be more physical in the defensive zone. His NHL comparison is Tyson Barrie, who is a solid top 4 offensive defenseman, who is mostly a powerplay specialist. Although his size may cap his potential, his dynamic skillset suggests he could be a top 4 defenseman at the NHL level, if developed properly.
Skill: Offensive-minded blueliner with Elite Skating ability, a heavy shot, and could be an anchor on the Powerplay
NHL Comparable: Tyson Barrie
NHL Potential: Top 4 Offensive Defenseman
|2021-22||Skelleftea AIK J20||J20 Nationell||14||1||3|
|2022-23||Skelleftea AIK J20||J20 Nationell||20||13||26|
|Sweden U18||Hlinka Gretzky Cup||5||0||2|