The Arizona Coyotes had two seventh-round picks for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. For the second time that draft they took a Swedish defenseman. With their first seventh-round pick they selected Axel Bergkvist from Leksands IF from HockeyAllsvenskan.
Team: Kitchener Rangers
Regular Season Games Played: 62
After spending his entire career in Sweden, Bergkvist played in North America for the first time this past season. With the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL, he had an extremely successful rookie season.
Bergkvist lead his team’s defensemen with 52 points and was 11th among OHL defensemen. This continued a trend form the previous season when he led J20 SuperElit defensemen in both goals and points.
Although he didn’t get any individual recognition during the season, his impact was not overlooked. A few weeks ago the CHL named him one of the “Top five impact players from the 2019 CHL Import Draft.” He also had a rather interesting moment when he picked up a raw fish that was thrown on the ice.
Someone threw a fish on the ice after a Steelheads goal.— Chris Pope (@_ChrisPope) January 26, 2020
Refs were waiting for an arena attendant to come get it, but Axel Bergkvist wasn't waiting. Picked it up barehanded.
After a successful rookie season, Bergkvist is going to be heading back to Sweden next season. He will be playing with BIK Karlskoga in Allsvenskan, giving him the opportunity to play against men. This was just announced last month, and his decision was likely influenced by the effect of Covid-19 creating uncertainty in the North American leagues.
Given the impact he had on the Rangers, Bergkvist seems to have a solid career ahead of him. Defensemen typically take longer to develop than forwards, so he may be a few seasons away from having an NHL impact.