How will Fredrik Handemark’s game translate from the SHL to the San Jose Sharks?
According to InStat Hockey‘s data, Handemark may be able to offer a plethora of skills.
InStat tracked 49 of Handemark’s 52 Malmo Redhawks appearances last year. He led all Malmo forwards at 18:46 Average Time on Time Per Game (ATOI), over a minute and a half more than anybody else. An all-purpose player, the 26-year-old pivot was a top power play option and a second-choice penalty killer. He led the team in Goals and Primary Assists.
Evaluating the 6-foot-4 Handemark’s shot charts, he did most of his damage in the low to high slot, a big-body net-front presence with soft hands.
Perhaps Handemark’s chief skill is his faceoff ability. The centerman led the SHL in Faceoff Percentage in 2019-20 (61.5 percent) and 2017-18 (62.8). Naturally, the lefty is really tough to beat on his strong side:
But what do these dominant numbers mean in the NHL?
Hockeysverige’s Uffe Bodin joins San Jose Hockey Now to project Handemark’s role with the San Jose Sharks and discuss his biggest weakness.
Sheng Peng: What type of role do you envision for Fredrik Handemark in the NHL?
Uffe Bodin: Probably a third or fourth-line center. I don’t think he will have the offensive punch in the NHL to take a bigger role than that. With that being said, he’s a very smart player and good face-off man who takes pride in being a good defensive player, so I think he could fill a role.
SP: Skating appears to be his main issue, do you think he will be able to keep up at the NHL?
UB: That’s the million-dollar question. I’ve seen improvements on that end the last few seasons and he’s been able to keep up with the best on the international European level, which is a good sign.
SP: He was the SHL’s most penalized player in 2018-19. Is it fair to assume that his size and physicality should translate well to North America?
UB: I don’t think he’s going to go around banging people up, but he had a physical element to his game in the SHL and he can be very aggressive on the ice. If that translates to the NHL, I’m not sure.
SP: Handemark led the SHL in Face-off Percentage in two of the last three years. Do you see any reason why he wouldn’t be a highly successful faceoff man in the NHL?
UB: He has proven year in and year out that he can be a very reliable guy in that department. The NHL will obviously be another challenge for him as the players are better, but I would bet he’s going to win more than 50 percent of his faceoffs in the NHL as well.
SP: Handemark didn’t blossom in the SHL until he was 23. What changed for him in the 2016-17 season?
UB: He got stuck on his old team in Leksand, didn’t get to play very much and didn’t have a lot of success early in his career.
But when he moved down to Malmo, things took off for him. He played really well in Hockeyallsvenskan and was promoted to the SHL where he started to make an immediate impact. He’s sort of a late-bloomer, but he has always been a hard worker and very creative in his way to become a better player.
SP: What’s made Handemark “captain material” in Malmo for the last three years?
UB: It was somewhat of a surprise when he was made the youngest captain of the SHL in 2017. I just think the coach liked how hard he worked and the big responsibility he took within the group. He’s sort of that “first-player-at-the-rink-last-one-to-leave” kind of guy who puts a lot of time and effort into being the best player he can be. That rubs off on a lot of teammates.
SP: Why did Handemark choose San Jose over Detroit? Considering they wanted him, he grew up a Wings and Pavel Datsyuk fan?
UB: I haven’t been able to ask him that. But if you look at what the Sharks have done for the last five years or so, they’ve had some success with bringing in free agents from Sweden.
Players like Melker Karlsson, Marcus Sorensen, Tim Heed and Joel Kellman have all played with the team in some kind of capacity, and I think players over here recognize that this is an organization that gives you a chance to play if you deserve it. That goes a long way.
Also, the Sharks don’t really have a lot of talent in the cupboard after all these years of trading away draft picks, so he probably saw that there was a good opportunity for him to play there.
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