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Doubting Dahlén



Credit: San Jose Barracuda

Not everybody’s sold on Jonathan Dahlen.

One NHL scout texted me, after the San Jose Sharks announced that they had signed the 23-year-old winger to a one-year, one-way $750,000 contract: “Dahlen getting a one-way is ridiculous. He played in the Swedish D2.”

That’s in reference to Dahlen spending the last two seasons in Allsvenskan, second-division Swedish hockey — by choice, I should add — because he wanted to lead hometown Timra IK out of relegation. And while Dahlen dominated, scoring 148 points in just 96 games and leading Timra IK into the SHL, it’s all a far, far cry from the NHL.

My guess? Dahlen would’ve simply stayed with his hometown club without a one-way salary guarantee. What a one-way contract means is that Dahlen is making the same salary, no matter where he’s playing, in the NHL or the AHL. A two-way contract means the player receives different salaries, higher if in the NHL, lower if in the AHL.

For the once-again lottery-bound San Jose Sharks, in desperate need of as much talent up front as possible, it’s just money. But will it be money well-spent?

The jury is out, for sure.

Canvassing scouts from other NHL teams, consensus is Dahlen possesses NHL-caliber offensive skill and vision. But is the 5-foot-11 winger quick enough for the best league in the world? Will he be able to handle the pace? Those are the questions that they’re asking.

This mirrors with what another scout said last October: “Besides his strength and conditioning, a scout also told SJHN that the winger needed to pick up his quickness or ‘explosion’ to keep up with the best league in the world.”

Jonathan Dahlen: “I was a little small before.”

“In certain important ways,” ex-Toronto Marlies assistant coach Jack Han wrote in April, “I believe that Jonathan Dahlén is under-skilled.”

This isn’t much sought-after Artemi Panarin coming to the NHL from Russia — in other organizations, Dahlen is seen as depth, and not as a possible top-nine solution, as he’s seen in San Jose.

It doesn’t mean Doug Wilson bet wrong — it happens all the time, one organization views a prospect through a different lenses than another organization — it’s just a note of caution. Let’s not pencil Dahlen into the San Jose Sharks’ top-nine just yet.

Dahlen’s offensive skill and vision give him a chance to make it big in the NHL, but he’s more question mark than answer right now.

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