The recent offensive surge of Jonatan Berggren has been put on pause by COVID-19.
The Detroit Red Wings’ 2018 second-round pick is on the COVID protocol list, just a few days after registering four assists for the Grand Rapids Griffins in 5-3 win against the Cleveland Monsters. Berggren didn’t play in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals. It’s unknown how much time Berggren will miss. But the timing couldn’t be much worse. He has 10 points in his past eight games.
“When he has the puck, he is a fantastic elite player,” Grand Rapids coach Ben Simon told Detroit Hockey Now this week. “He is a very skilled player. But it’s just trying to find ways to get the puck more. That means getting to those harder-to-get-to-areas.”
Last season, Berggren, 21, tied for sixth in the Swedish Hockey League scoring race with 45 points in 49 games. But he was injured at Red Wings’ training camp in September and never had an opportunity to show what he could do offensively. He started slowly in the AHL, but has improved as the season has worn on.
“I think he’s really starting to grow into the North American game,” Simon said. “and segue out of some of the habits he has had in Europe. But there is still room for continued improvement in that department. ”
It helps every young player to grow stronger. But Simon doesn’t think size or strength is an issue for the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Berggren
“When he gets pucks down low in the corner, he has a very low center of gravity,” Simon said. “He protects pucks well and he’s actually pretty heavy on pucks, pretty strong on pucks when he gets into battles.”
Jonatan Berggren Protects the Puck
Berggren’s hockey sense helps him against bigger players. “You don’t have to be six-foot-4 , 230 pounds to be heavy on the puck, or heavy on the forecheck,” Simon said. “If you are a smaller guy you can use your wits, you get inside guys, you can gain body position, you can pre-bump, you can use your vision to see where open ice is, how to get to it. I think he does a fantastic job, once he gets into those battles, of not letting his size get exploited.”
The Red Wings have not hinted at a timetable for Berggren’s NHL arrival, although it is hard not to imagine it will be some time this season. Part of the experience he needs is learning how to adjust to playing against NHL players. The Red Wings already have four rookies on their roster in Moritz Seider, Lucas Raymond, Joe Veleno and Alex Nedeljkovic.
Simon said what Jonatan Berggren needs to learn is how to have an impact when he doesn’t have the puck.
This week, Berggren moved into 25th place in the American Hockey League scoring race.
“He’s definitely trending in the right direction,” Simon said.