An SHL champion, playoff MVP, Swedish forward of the year, and now a top 10 Maple Leaf prospect.
Pontus Holmberg is in the final year of his entry level contract with the Maple Leafs, having been loaned back to the Växjö Lakers of the SHL last season, the team where he won his championship in 2021. This year Holmberg is expected to play for the Toronto Marlies, building on the six games he played at the end of last season.
Holmberg is a quick puck moving centre who has his eyes on the play at all times. He’s a passer and a set up man, seeing the bulk of his points come as assists - 11G, 30A in 2021/22. He’ll have his eyes on a Leafs spot on camp, but with more veteran/older players signed this summer (Adam Gaudette, Denis Malgin) and players who have been with the Marlies and in the organization longer (Joey Anderson, Kyle Clifford) he’ll be fighting for the 13th forward spot on the Leafs.
For someone just coming over from Europe, I’d only bet on him getting a top six role with the Marlies ten times out of ten. He walked into the 1C spot last spring.
Last year he was ranked 20th, so why is he 10th all of a sudden? It could be a combination of more people knowing who he is, his accomplishments are piling up - being included on the Olympic team was huge - and an appearance in Toronto at the end of last year for sure helps. Everyone pretty much agreed he was a top ten player, with only one person putting him two spots back. Thanks Brigs.
Pontus Holmberg Votes
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dhammm: By NHLe, Pontus Holmberg was second among T25U25 eligible skaters (39.05). Second! So I rank him highly despite the fact that last season was Pontus Holmberg’s D+5 season. In their D+5 seasons, Pierre Engvall had wrapped up his AHL debut season (14.56 NHLe) and Andreas Johnsson put up a point-per-game in his second full AHL season and even got a little call-up action with the Leafs (totalling 31.24 NHLe). The strength of Holmberg’s production puts him above the collection of depth forward prospects the Leafs have on the Marlies and there’s a real chance he hits the North American leagues strongly and develops into a strong bottom-six winger.
Brigstew: He has a surprisingly good shot and skill, but plays a smart, two way game either as a center or winger. I can see him sticking in the bottom six in the NHL one day, if he can add a bit more to his game. I didn’t watch him as much as others, but I was always impressed by his SHL play, and at the Olympics. He does all the little things really well. Good positioning, good stick work, and has enough skill to execute on effective plays even if they aren’t flashy. He may not ever score a lot, but I don’t think he’d be hopeless offensively either.
TomK421: Holmberg is the more exciting Anderson/Steeves for me. Same idea for depth but with more scoring ability and potential to move higher in the lineup. A future Engvall perhaps? Probably not this year but putting unreasonable hopes on prospects is half the fun.
And yes, the other half is fun names.
Katya: Every time anyone at all talks about Holmberg and scoring, I laugh. I’m sorry, I can’t help it. For the love of dog, Källgren was a stud backup goalie in the SHL. Half the league has Leafs failures as starters. Pierre Engvall scores in the SHL! Andreas Borgman is top pair. Johan Larsson, who every stats nerd wanted to sign for league minimum because of defence, is so good he got a record breaking contract on an SHL team.
Holmberg is not an offensive threat. He’s a work ethic, coach’s favourite, Engvall/Hyman guy who works the corners hard, so hard you’ll go back and check his weight stats twice. He’s smart about the game and about playing the game all game long. He’s not an asshole net-front like Knies likes to be, but he’s relentless. He’s also played entire seasons slogging it out in the D zone when his team was bad. And you love to see that! Well, not if you’re a Växjö fan, obviously, but for development it’s wonderful. I think he has a real chance. Just not from scoring.
Hardev: This is becoming a theme, but I’m going to say exactly what Katya said but from a different lens (a perspective she actually gets to at the end). Pontus Holmberg is a fully developed pro hockey player and I think if the contracts and waivers work out, he could slot into the Leafs bottom six without a second thought. He plays hard, he’s smart, and he’s dependable. It sounds like he can play in his own zone well, help move the puck from the DZ to the OZ, and get repeatable chances once there. Again, I don’t think he should be spending much time on the Marlies. If players underperform on the Leafs fourth line, I think he’s ahead of Steeves and Anderson when it comes to getting the call. And that’s why he’s voted ahead of them. Sorry for stealing content, Katya!
What line will Holmberg be on at the end of this regular season?
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