Last week we finished the last of the 2018 Arizona Coyotes draft class with a breakdown of Liam Kirk’s first season in North America. We are going to continue the breakdowns and explore the seasons of the 2017 draft class. We previously looked at the 2017 draft and it’s effect on the Arizona Coyotes as a whole, but this series allows us to dig deeper and look at the individual players.
The Coyotes had two picks in the first round, one being traded with Tony DeAngelo to acquire Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan, while the other was used on P. O. Joseph who was traded with Alex Galchenyuk to acquire Phil Kessel. The Coyotes traded their second-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for the 44th, 75th, and 108th picks. Having moved down in the draft the Coyotes picked Swedish defenseman Filip Westerlund with the 44th overall pick.
Team: Timra IK and Frolunda HC
Regular Season Games Played: 4/19
The Coyotes likely reached a bit when drafting Westerlund. Most ratings at the draft had him ranked in the 60s or below, but the Coyotes drafted him 44th overall. The Coyotes have quite a few defensive prospects so it’s interesting they would pick another defenseman, but they were likely impressed with Westerlund’s hockey IQ.
Since being drafted by the Coyotes Westerlund has bounced back and forth between a few leagues and teams. He has played with Frolunda HC J20 in SuperElit, Frolunda HC and Timra IK in the SHL, and IF Bjorkloven in Allsvenskan. He has also represented Sweden at various international competitions.
Last season was rough for Westerlund. For the second straight season he was loaned from his team to another team. His time being loaned to Timra IK was short though, with a shoulder injury cutting his season short.
Based off interviews on Swedish sites, Westerlund will be spending next season in Sweden. Especially after a season that was cut short with injury it makes sense for him to continue his recovery and continue to develop.
Next season will be key for Westerlund. Ideally he will rebound and have a successful season in Sweden. If he struggles again though it will look less and less likely that he has what is needed to transition to the NHL.
Arizona has a pretty deep defensive prospect pool, which was made deeper when the Coyotes drafted Victor Soderstrom a few months ago. Westerlund still seems like he could still prove to be a solid NHL defenseman though, even if he is taking a bit longer to develop.