When the Detroit Red Wings snagged Jonatan Berggren early in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, fans were over the moon. Four years later, those same fans eagerly await his Red Wings debut.
Considered a steal by many draft analysts, Berggren has done nothing but impress as he’s climbed the ranks of both the SHL and now the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
All that awaits is the final call up to Detroit and Berggren will be sure to be ready when they are.
Berggren Making Big Strides in Grand Rapids
He didn’t burst out of the gates with the Griffins, but as Berggren acclimated to the North American ice, so too did the production that has defined his young career so far. Through 56 games this season, the winger has 44 points, with 15 of those being goals. The scoring touch from Sweden last season followed to Grand Rapids.
“I feel more comfortable in my game,” Berggren said. “It was a little bit different the first five or six games in the beginning of the season. But after that I was feeling like I was playing my game. I was taking the right step to be a forward that they can trust both on the offensive and defensive way.”
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That offensive part of his game resulted in several big goals for Grand Rapids this season. The skill and upside Detroit recognized when they selected him has shone often in Grand Rapids.
“I think Berggren’s grown through the course of the year,” Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think the biggest challenge for a guy like Jonatan is he’s an offensive guy that has to make sure that he can produce offense in the North American game.”
The Red Wings organizational philosophy preaches a strong, two-way game that translates. According to Blashill, the defensive aspect of Berggren’s game has “grown,” something the development team has targeted. Berggren knows and appreciates the emphasis Detroit places on 200-foot-hockey.
“I know my game has the skills to do what I want in the offensive zone,” Berggren said. “My focus is to become a more complete player in the defensive zone.”
When the Detroit Red Wings Call, Berggren’s will be Ready
As for whether he’ll be up this season, the jury is still out. It’s certainly close, but a number of factors play into whether or not Berggren will get a cup of coffee with the Detroit Red Wings.
“Ultimately Steve makes those decisions based on what he thinks is best for the prospect,” Blashill said. “There’s a lot that goes into that. Sometimes, giving him a taste up here is good, sometimes it’s not.”
With Grand Rapids fighting for every point they can earn in a tight playoff race, the Griffins needing Berggren’s offensive output also weighs in on whether he’s called up or not. The 21-year-old forward knows his focus must remain with the Griffins, unfazed by the chatter of a possible promotion as the playoff chase beckons.
“Every game is important to us right now,” Berggren explained. “There are a few points between us an and a playoff spot. We need to play at our highest level.
If you’re playing good, people will talk about you,” he said. “That’s a big boost that they’re talking about me.”
Ultimately, it will come down to what Yzerman believes is best for the organization and Berggren.
“Sometimes it’s better to stay right in the environment you’re in and just continue to focus on growing your game and allow that confidence to grow,” Blashill said. “Steve will make that decision and he’ll work with his management staff to decide what they think is best for Jonatan.”
Whether the call does or doesn’t come this season, Berggren doesn’t concern himself about it. It’s about staying in the moment and doing what’s necessary to push Grand Rapids into the playoffs.
He’s ready when they are.
“Training camp showed me how hard it is to play at the top levels,” Berggren said. “It gave me motivation to put in the work every single day.
I just want to do my thing, and hopefully, that will make me an NHL player someday.”