Cast your mind back to the end of April. You might remember that shortly after our Leafs fell nobly in six games to the Capitals, the Leafs were rumoured to be looking very closely and multiple Swedish defenders—and for once, the rumours mostly had it right. After a few weeks of chatter, Toronto picked up two Swedish Hockey League d-men in mid-May.
The first of them is Calle Rosen, and he’s our #17.
The undrafted Calle Rosen celebrated his 23rd birthday in February. He’s spent the last two years patrolling the blueline for his hometown Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League, and he managed nearly half a point a game this season (6G, 13A, 19P in 41 games.) He was quite sought after this summer; NHL teams pay close attention to the Swedish league these days, and Rosen’s name was one of the most discussed, along with Andreas Borgman and Philip Holm. The Leafs are also coming off a banner European free agent signing in Nikita Zaitsev; while Rosen isn’t in Zaitsev’s class, he’s plenty interesting.
Let’s start with the good news: he can skate, and skating will get you a long way. Almost everyone speaks highly of his mobility, and you’ll notice it right away if you watch him. Rosen’s offensive game is interesting enough to scouts; he can pass and he has a dangerous one-timer. Reports on his defence are more mixed; Bob McKenzie described him as “inconsistent” while Dobber Prospects say he’s “shown strong responsibility for his own zone”; our own Katya Knappe said “he can get lost in his own end sometimes.” One of the most exciting things about Rosen is that he’s capable of playing right side, despite shooting left; obviously that opens an easier path onto the Leafs’ roster for him. It also offers him the opportunity to deploy that nasty one-timer with the inside shot, something he did well in Sweden.
Rosen is built lean, and there’s some concern about him getting knocked around; he’s had trouble with concussions this year. Putting that aside, though, he has the skillset of a modern defenceman. The Swedish League is not the NHL, and points are easier to come by there, but being a solid defenceman in a men’s league is an encouraging sign.
Calle Rosén via Elite Prospects
|Växjö Lakers HC J18||J18 Elit||21||2||2||4||20|
|Växjö Lakers HC J20||J20 Elit||17||3||0||3||0|
|2010-2011||Frölunda HC J18||J18 Elit||19||6||5||11||2|
|Frölunda HC J18||J18 Allsvenskan||15||1||5||6||2||Playoffs||5||1||0||1||2|
|Frölunda HC J20||SuperElit||16||1||1||2||0|
|2011-2012||Frölunda HC J18||J18 Elit||17||6||8||14||6|
|Frölunda HC J18||J18 Allsvenskan||13||4||10||14||4||Playoffs||4||0||2||2||4|
|Frölunda HC J20||SuperElit||24||1||4||5||4|
|2012-2013||Frölunda HC J20||SuperElit||35||3||16||19||10|
|Karlskrona HK||Allsvenskan||12||1||2||3||0||Kvalserien AS||10||2||0||2||6|
|Sweden U19 (all)||International-Jr||4||1||2||3||0|
|Sweden U20 (all)||International-Jr||3||1||1||2||0|
|2014-2015||Växjö Lakers HC||SHL||3||0||0||0||2|
|2015-2016||Växjö Lakers HC||SHL||52||3||11||14||4||Playoffs||13||1||4||5||0|
|Växjö Lakers HC||Champions HL||6||2||1||3||4|
|2016-2017||Växjö Lakers HC||SHL||41||6||13||19||10||Playoffs||6||0||0||0||2|
|Växjö Lakers HC||Champions HL||11||5||2||7||4|
|2017-2018||Växjö Lakers HC||SHL||-||-||-||-||-|
|Player statistics powered by www.eliteprospects.com|
This package also features some Andreas Borgman in the second half, so stop watching at 2:42 unless you were the kind of kid who looked at their Christmas presents early. Rosen is more than enough to make it worth the click; he has a very fun highlight package, and you can see him making full use of that inside slapshot to bomb goals from the point. He also moves like a water bug. I won’t lie, Rosen’s highlights are among the most fun I’ve watched this year.
We had a lot of thoughts about Calle. Starting from the top, our blogboss Katya Knappe offered the following thoughts on Rosen:
Calle Rosén is an interesting prospect who could not crack the Swedish national team. He's behind Philip Holm, who the Canucks got, sorry everyone. He is going to need to take a remarkable jump to make the NHL. I say he's an AHLer for a year and then home is the most likely outcome, but he can play pro hockey at pro hockey speed. He might surprise.
Kevin is reserved about Rosen.
Rosen is a clear standout in terms of speed, and he looks set to start the season as the fastest skating defenceman on the Toronto Marlies. His quickness allows him to jump up and join the rush, and there are no questions about his ability to keep up at the NHL pace.
The major red flag here is in terms of strength, as Rosen is bound to struggle in terms of net front battles, and it is tough to see him matching up against top competition as a result. His ability to get his shot off in a hurry makes him a solid goal scoring threat from the backend, but there will be a lot of pressure on his offensive game given his style of play. His puck carrying ability and vision remain up in the air to me, and this is a major question mark for a defenceman who is not overly physical.
Given Toronto’s depth on the left side, he faces an uphill battle to make the NHL roster. I think he needs to be quite good if he's taking a spot from a RHD on their natural side. His speed kept him within my top 20, but I am simply not confident enough in his ability to drive play to place him any higher. As a new signee, this is one of the bigger unknowns on this list.
Scott Wheeler offers the following cautious endorsement:
Rosen is an interesting case because he's wet his feet on the international stage against strong competition and he's played a top pairing role in an excellent professional league, but he's not all that talented. Beyond being an excellent skater, Rosen has pretty mediocre tools. To his credit, he's probably among the closest young Leafs D (if you can call him young), to making the transition to the NHL -- and the likeliest, alongside Dermott, to make the team out of camp. Just don't expect big numbers or an impact defender. He's likely a third pairing guy if he can stick.
Arvind thinks Rosen could have gone a couple of spots above #17:
Yeah, fuck off buddy we absolutely need Rosen ranked higher. Fuckin every time this kid steps on the ice someone scores. kids fuckin dirt nasty man. Does fuckin karlsson have 5 champions league goals this season I dont fuckin think so bud. I'm fuckin tellin ya Calle Rosen"crantz and Guildenstern" is an above average 2nd pairing defenseman in '17 fuckin callin it right now. Clap bombs, fuck moms, wheel, snipe, and fuckin celly boys fuck
A little bit to my own surprise, I was the highest of all our voters on Rosen. I don’t think he’s an NHL lock, by any means, but Rosen pulls together three key strands that I value:
- He’s performed in a high-level pro league
- He’s capable of playing right defence
- He’s a good skater
None of that guarantees anything. But you can chart an eventual course onto the Leafs’ third pairing that requires only optimism and not wild speculation, and I like that. After that, who knows?
Barring a stellar training camp, Rosen is likely to go down to the AHL, where he can spend time honing his game with the Toronto Marlies. He’s currently waiver-exempt, as he’s beginning his two-year ELC. Calle will definitely be one to watch on the Marlies this year, and a big year there would clear his path for a promotion in 2018-19—or even late this season.
This is the kind of move I’m very glad to see the organization make. It’s another avenue to find a quality player, it exploits the Leafs’ financial and scouting resources, and it just might pay off big. We’re rooting for you, Rosen.