Isak Rosen could be an incredible offensive player in the NHL for years to come. Commonly compared to players like Viktor Arvidsson, Rosen projects to be a top-six, or even top line winger. He has played his entire career with Leksands in Sweden—just like the newest Calgary Flame prospect Emil Heineman, who the Flames acquired as part of the Sam Bennett trade. While he is a left shot, Rosen could be someone that the Flames look at, both due to his play, but also from having actively watched Heineman since he was drafted. Ranked 31st on TWC’s consolidated NHL draft rankings, he could be one to go anywhere from the mid-first to early second round. Let’s break down Rosen’s game.
Who is Isak Rosen?
Born in March 2003, Rosen is right in the middle of this year’s draft class—neither the youngest nor the oldest. While he is definitely not the biggest, standing 5’10” and weighing in just north of 160 pounds, he can wow you with his speed and skating, and his ability to beat defenders any which way. Rosen is not a centre, but can play either the left side or the right side, and is comfortable on either position despite him being a left shot.
Isak Rosen’s on-ice production
Like most Swedish prospects, Rosen has bounced through the Swedish leagues in his development. Unlike most prospects in North America this year, he got as close to a full season as can be expected in a pandemic year.
|2018–19||D-2||U16 Elit||Leksands IF U16||14||14||11||25|
|2018–19||D-2||J18 Elit||Leksands IF J18||12||3||4||7|
|2019–20||D-2||J18 Allsvenskan||Leksands IF J18||16||15||7||22|
|2020–21||D-1||J20 SuperElit||Leksands IF J20||38||21||14||35|
|2020–21||D+0||J18 Region||Leksands IF J18||1||2||2||4|
|2020–21||D+0||J20 Nationell||Leksands IF J20||12||7||5||12|
As with any Swedish prospect, it is important to take the player’s numbers in the SHL with a grain of salt. These players are typically 17 or 18 years old, and find themselves good enough to play in Sweden’s highest league. With Rosen in particular, he was playing for a very good Leksands team that finished third in the SHL. He was averaging under six minutes per night, which would help explain why his numbers do not jump off the page this year. That being said, the fact that Leksands saw him as too good for the J20 league as a 17-year-old is high praise for the potential first-round pick.
And the fact that he was in the SHL for nearly the whole season should not be surprising. He was clearly too good for every other league in the country. He was nearly a point-per-game everywhere else, better across the board than most Swedish prospects. There were only 22 U18 players who featured in the SHL, and Rosen was fifth in games played. Among these skaters, he was eighth in points with just the one to his credit. In the J20 Nationell, he finished ninth in points-per-game among U18 skaters. Clearly he is quite good.
On top of all the hockey he played in the various Swedish leagues, he was also on Team Sweden’s World U18 roster this year, where he put up seven goals and two assists in seven games. His seven goals was good for fourth in the tournament, and was the most of any player eligible for this year’s draft. He finished 11th in points in the tournament as well.
Isak Rosen’s strengths
Rosen is one of the best skaters in his draft class. Not only is he smooth on his feet, but he is incredibly fast and able to beat defenders one on one without much effort. Unlike Svechkov, who is also an excellent skater and very quick, Rosen has great crossovers, and can change speeds on a dime to fool players on the rush. With slick hands and incredible vision, Rosen is a master at gaining the zone, or making a rush play look easy. Watch this incredible end-to-end rush he makes, beating multiple defenders on the way:
My word, can he fly! Rosen is just so good on his feet. And while he is an excellent skater, his offensive tools are just as good, if not better. Looking at his point totals, you can see how much of a nose he has for the net. Rosen can shoot with the best of them, boasting a hard, accurate wrist shot, and a reasonably good slap shot too. While he can always improve the power on both, this will come with him bulking up as he gets older. He is a pure sniper with his shot, loving to shoot from the dot or the slot, and his shot can beat goalies from just about anywhere. Watch this dipsy-doodle play he makes before sniping one high glove side into the back of the net:
And while his offence is good, his defence isn’t bad either. Rosen uses his strong skating skills to get back in transition, able to break up plays through the neutral zone before they become a genuine threat. He is also unafraid to get in lanes and block shots. When the puck comes back to his to start the rush, he doesn’t cheat the play, making the smart move to support into the neutral zone. Rosen’s high hockey IQ allows him to not be a liability at either end of the ice.
Isak Rosen’s areas of improvement
Two things stand in the way of Rosen reaching his full potential. First, and most importantly, Rosen needs to build up more muscle to be competitive. His height isn’t much of an issue, but it is his weight that needs to improve. Rosen struggles to get to danger areas simply because he isn’t big enough to push some of the bigger guys out of the way, and while he does have a good shot from the outside, it will never be as effective as from right in front of the net.
The good news is that this is obviously a fixable problem. Rosen will bulk up over his development and should grow into being the type of player who can force his way into contested areas. While he does need to work on his confidence as well to begin forcing his way back to the front of the net, Rosen should be able to work on that as well.
The other issue is while he has excelled against competition his own age, the fact that he wasn’t able to perform well in the SHL this year despite the number of games he got into has worried some scouts. This is a similar concern to Aatu Raty, who was projected to be a top pick this year but had a rough season. Moving to play against men is a big jump for a 17-year-old, but Rosen has the tools to overcome this next season.
Fit with the Flames
Rosen projects to be no worse than a third line winger, and as good as a top-line winger. You cannot say no to that level of potential. Rosen feels like a potential home run for whoever takes him, and whatever issues he has right now feel eminently fixable with time in the gym.
On top of that, he’s someone who is likely on the Flames’ radar from them having scouted Heineman for so many years. They have likely seen a lot of his games already, and assuming they like what they have seen, he could be on the shortlist. On the face of it, Rosen feels like a reach at 12, but he has jumped up a lot of later, and has been projected to be a mid first-round pick. Do not be surprised if the Flames take him, or if he’s gone before the 31st overall pick—his rank on TWC’s consolidated rankings.
Rosen needs to put on a few pounds, but if that’s the biggest knock on the guy, he is clearly excellent. Unlike some other first-round picks, Rosen has few flaws to his actual game, and given the Flames have seen a lot of him, there’s a higher chance the Flames might look at him over other prospects available. The risk is low, the reward is high, and while he is a left shot, his scoring and two-way play are worth getting excited about.
Projection: Top line winger
Previously: William Eklund, Dylan Guenther, Cole Sillinger, Jesper Wallstedt, Kent Johnson, Simon Robertsson, Fabian Lysell, Aatu Räty, Carson Lambos, Simon Edvinsson, Chaz Lucius, Mason McTavish, Brennan Othmann, Corson Ceulemans, Francesco Pinelli, Oskar Olausson, Xavier Bourgault, Zachary L’Heureux, Matthew Coronato, Zachary Bolduc, Logan Stankoven, Sebastian Cossa, Nikita Chibrikov, Fyodor Svechkov, Daniil Chayka
Featured image created with Venngage.