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Ryan Tverberg has undergone a huge rise in status as a prospect since Kyle Dubas traded for the 5th last pick in the 2020 draft to get him. From having a relatively mediocre draft season in the OJHL and following freshman year in the NCAA, the small, gritty forward has become a leader and top scorer on a relatively strong UConn team.
Tverberg’s T25 ranking history reflects this improvement—from spending his first two rankings as an unranked, unmentioned nobody, to voters noticing that they had looked past him once he was invited to Canada’s WJC camp in 2021, to a respectable 22nd place finish in last year’s ranking. None of that is flashy yet, but it’s a good sign for a seventh round pick to show enough to get into the conversation.
|Age as of July 1||21.42|
This year, after keeping up the pace he set in his breakout sophomore season, he’s moved up in the ranking once again, to 17th. But is his improvement enough to make him a future contributor at the NHL level?
As previously mentioned, the Leafs drafted Tverberg in 2020 with the fifth last pick of the draft. In his draft year, he played in the OJHL and put up 51 points in 47 games, a very pedestrian scoring pace given the league. Nonetheless, he showed some potential with his speed and tenacity. Scott Wheeler’s profile on him at the time of the 2020 draft, for example, highlighted his skill and skating and projected that he may well be worthy of an NHL contract at the end of his NCAA career.
Since then, he’s played through his NCAA career in only three seasons, and has earned an NHL contract.
In his first season with UConn, Tverberg’s numbers remained relatively uninspiring, with only 7 points in 14 games, but in his sophomore season, Tverberg broke out. In 2021-2022, Tverberg bumped his pace up to 14 goals and 32 points in 36 games. Early in that season, Tverberg’s play also got him a chance to try out for the Canadian World Juniors team, where he didn’t make the team, but had a strong showing and reportedly was the last player cut.
This past year, Tverberg played an increased role as the first line centre, on a once again strong UConn team. He took more shots and maintained his scoring pace from 2021-22, with 15 goals and 30 points in 35 games. His season wasn’t a very notable improvement on the strides he had already made in 2021-22, but they do show success in a larger role and prove that his previous strides were very much the real thing.
That said, even though his scoring has increased to more respectable levels, having a sub-PPG pace in the NCAA is not the kind of scoring that gets a player to the NHL very often. Players with this profile in the NCAA certainly can make it, but it’s not all that common.
Luckily, Tverberg has more than points going for him. In particular, the skating and skill that Wheeler talked about in 2020 are still consistent strengths in Tverberg’s game. Tracking data shows Tverberg very good at successfully carrying it into the zone, backing up that these strengths have served him well in college:
Alongside this speed, scouts often emphasize Tverberg’s good defensive play and his hard-working, high-energy game, particularly on the forecheck. It’s this energy that Brian notes most often in his scouting reports of Tverberg — he called him a future Marlies fan-favourite because of it in last year’s T25 profile.
Brian’s more recent profile of Tverberg in his NA prospect season summary also highlights many of the same skills and tools, along with Tverberg’s slight improvement this season:
Tverberg’s skills are the kind that could suit him well as a bottom-six energy player in the NHL. They’re also the reason why he’s held in so much higher regard than a player like Veeti Miettinen, who scores at a similar pace in college but is generally described as a relatively one-dimensional scorer. Tverberg is often compared to other late-round successes the Leafs have had recently, such as Engvall and Holmberg, and it’s notable that neither of those players became successes through their scoring, even though a certain level of scoring was needed to make it. Tverberg’s got the right kind of profile and the right kind of tools to beat the odds too.
Optimistic as this profile of Tverberg’s tools may sound, it remains to be seen if he can actually translate them to the pro game. In a 7-game stint with the Marlies last year after signing his ELC, Tverberg didn’t score any points and didn’t seem to make all that strong of an impression. This upcoming year, Tverberg is one of a few still quite young late-drafted forward prospects who are making the full-time jump to pro with the Marlies. It will be interesting to see how all of them do and which ones will be able to translate their games to pro. Tverberg certainly has the kind of game that could serve him well in making this jump, especially compared to more offensively-focused prospects like #21-ranked Ovchinnikov, and yet-to-be-ranked Ty Voit, but that doesn’t mean it will be a smooth jump for him by any means.
Here’s where everyone had Tverberg ranked:
Here’s what the voters had to say about Tverberg:
Cathy: Tverberg irritates me. Not the player, he’s likely a fine person who will try his best on the Marlies. But the validation his sh% in the NCAA got was really annoying. He gets points at a pace lower than Veeti Miettinen, the other guy who annoys me because I had to rank him too. His NCAA career says future Growler. Which is where most NCAA grads end up – not even the AHL – they go to the E because the NCAA is not even as tough as junior hockey and most CHL players top out at E level.
Brian: I’ve said for a couple of years now, Tverberg will be a fan favourite with the Marlies. He’s average sized, but he’s quick and always skates and plays hard. He is a high effort guy, on the forecheck and backcheck. He’ll throw his weight around, and can be a bulldog fighting through checks and against the other team trying to retrieve dump ins. His speed and shot are his two better offensive weapons, but I see him topping out as a bottom six role player who buzzes around and creates chaos with his speed. There just isn’t enough skill to make me think he will have a very high amount of point production. He’ll be a support/energy guy, and it’s still a question on if he can be that in the NHL.
dhammm: All you can ask for from a prospect taken in the 5th-7th rounds is that they make you think about them, and Ryan Tverberg managed to do that. He joined the struggling Marlies down the stretch and didn't do much with his playtime (0p in 7gp), but he's got an engine and he's a prospect to watch on a Marlies squad experiencing lots of turnover going into next season. A bottom-six energy player if everything breaks right.
The Bag: Tverberg is a guy that, ten years ago, I’d not have bothered ranking, and maybe I would have been right. But I now put a little more value on how a player’s skills fit together as a package, and less about whether a player has a standout NHL-level skill. Tverberg is the kind of energy forward that I could see cracking an NHL lineup if everything went right, because he’s not obviously missing any component that his game and role would require. The question is just if he can do it at the NHL or AHL level (he likely can’t). This year will be an interesting test for Tverberg.
Hardev: To be frank with dhammm, I didn’t actually think about Tverberg very much this year beyond hearing his name being pronounced once and going “oh, that’s how you say it.” He wasn’t very impressive on an unimpressive Connecticut team. His seven games on the Marlies didn’t start his pro career off great, and now we know he’s more of a winger than a centre. He’ll have this year, but until then I don’t see much reason to believe he’s more than a long shot. I am shocked he ended up ahead of Chadwick, and honestly SDA for that matter, too.
Where would you rank Tverberg? Are you optimistic about how his game could project to the AHL or, further, the NHL? What kind of performance do you expect from him in his rookie AHL season?
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