The San Jose Sharks are not signing prospect Linus Oberg to a contract, according to San Jose Hockey Now’s sources.
Oberg is now a UFA.
The Swedish winger was part of a list of 29 prospects whose exclusive team rights are set to expire on Jun. 1 at 5 PM EST.
Signing Deadline Update
June 1 is the deadline to sign these 29 prospects, if they remain unsigned, their respective team loses their exclusive signing rights.
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) May 30, 2022
Oberg, 21, has scored 30 goals in two seasons with Örebro HK in the SHL since the San Jose Sharks selected him with the 206th pick of the 2020 NHL Draft. He was actually the second-highest Under-22 goal scorer in the SHL this season with 17 goals.
“He goes to the dirty areas and is quite uncomfortable to play against around the net,” Swedish reporter Uffe Bodin told SJHN. “If it would translate to the NHL is harder to predict, but I do believe his style would be a good fit in smaller rinks.”
But it’s San Jose Hockey Now’s understanding that Oberg intends to return to Örebro HK next year, and the San Jose Sharks wanted to keep that contract slot – one of their 50 allowed standard-player contracts – for a likely NHL player in the 2022-23 campaign. Even if Oberg had come over, he seems to project as an AHL player next season.
That said, Oberg should be a decent flier for an NHL organization that doesn’t mind stashing a prospect in Sweden for a little while longer.
Sharks director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr. spoke highly of Oberg to the San Jose Hockey Podcast last month, though he also suggested that there were some challenges that might prevent the prospect from coming over.
“Still trying to figure [a contract with Oberg] all out. The Swedish agreement with the NHL was just [re-upped] recently, so there’s some changes with it,” Wilson Jr. said. “I went over there, saw he played some really good games against high-end opponents. He’s trending well.”
To be more exact, the big change in the NHL-SHL agreement is that Swedish players are encouraged to develop in the SHL instead of the AHL. Per Pro Hockey Rumors: “Under the old agreement, players drafted in the second round or later that are also signed in Sweden had to be at least 21 before they could be sent to the AHL. If they were younger than that, they had to be returned to their Swedish team. In the new agreement, that threshold has been increased to 24.”
Johan Ekberg of VF Sport does remind me that this isn’t an ironclad agreement. If an age 21-24 Swedish prospect wants to play in the AHL and his Swedish club agrees to it (or he doesn’t have a Swedish club), it’s certainly possible.
Regardless, such prospects and their contracts with NHL teams still count against the 50-contract limit. So to some degree, it’s become NHL or bust for a layer of age 21-24 Swedish prospects, which includes Oberg.
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