Roughly translated: Hakan Andersson talks about the Wings’ draft picks with ‘It’s shit what it says on the passport’

I’m not the first one to find this article–Red Wings Prospects on Twitter posted this while I was sleeping–but here’s a rough translation of Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson’s long interview with Mans Karlsson:

“I’m the first to say ‘[it’s] shit in what it says on the passport'”

They were not content with [just drafting] Lucas Raymond. Detroit picked three Swedes in this year’s draft – with its first three draft picks. Now European scout Håkan Andersson talks about the selections.

“We do not hunt for Swedes – we hunt for the best hockey players,” Andersson says to

No NHL team is as closely associated with Swedes as the Detroit Red Wings. There is, of course, a simple explanation for that, and that explanation is spelled Håkan Andersson. The team’s legendary scout has worked for Detroit for 30 years, and has made a lot of blue-and-yellow discoveries.

In this year’s draft, Detroit chose  Lucas Raymond with its first choice, the fourth overall, and with his second and third choices, respectively, defenseman William Wallinder from Modo and forward  Theodor Niederbach from Frölunda were picked. A hat trick of Swedes, then.

But it is more of a coincidence, says Håkan Andersson. 

“I have worked for Detroit for 30 years and it is clear to most of those who are on the team now. That discussion comes up at regular intervals and I am the first to say, “It’s shit in what it says in the passport – choose the best players” , says the scout to and continues:

Steve Yzerman (General manager) knows that if we choose a Swede, they are mostly socially adapted, they speak good English, they are good at adapting tactically and things like that. But we do not hunt for Swedes. We chase after good hockey players regardless of nationality. Then we know that Swedes are in a certain way, if you are to generalize, while Russians are in a way, Finns in a different way and Czechs have their special characteristics. But in the end, it’s the best hockey player we want. It does not matter what nationality the player is.”

That  Alexis Lafrenière would go as number one to the New York Rangers was a given in advance. That Quinton Byfield and Tim Stützle would go as number two and three to Los Angeles and Ottawa, respectively, was also obvious, although the order between the two was not entirely certain. But then the draft really began. 


Detroit sat there with the fourth choice, and then picked the Swedish super-talent Lucas Raymond.

“Yes, we also thought that the three who went top-three would go top-three. Had any of them fallen down to our choice, we would have had to have a discussion about who we would choose. But we probably had four or five names that we talked about and that we really liked and it ended up with Lucas coming out on top of them.”

“There were a number of different scenarios. We talked about what we would do if someone wanted the fourth choice and offered something in return for us to jump down to six or seven and things like that. Would we have gotten an equally good player then? But in the end, everyone was very excited that we got Lucas.”

How much did the fine autumn he’s had time to achieve with Frölunda mean for your choice?

“He has actually always been in that group of four, five names that I mentioned earlier. But it definitely feels like he took a real step from this past spring. So of course it was noted.”

With their second draft pick, the first to be made in the second round, Detroit picked the big defenseman William Wallinder. A player that many, including Detroit themselves, had ranked as a prospect who would go in the first round.

It spontaneously feels like a choice you can not go wrong with, considering how big he is but at the same time how good a skater he is.

“yes, that was about how we reasoned it as well. It was a gift from above when he landed in the second round, so we could pick him up then.”

REMINDS [Andersson of] HEDMAN

Precisely considering his size, skating and background in Modo, there are those who have compared Wallinder’s style of play with Victor Hedman.

“He’s fine raw material. Someone told me that Hedman had taken part in some practicing with Modo, and many people had commented on the similarities between them. ‘They go to hell the same, they carry the puck the same’ and things like that. Now he has a long way to go, he is not a finished product in any way. Now he has been up and played a bit with the A-team and there he has probably both mixed and given results–but there is nothing strange about that. He is still young and gaining experience.”

He has still mostly played junior hockey; could it be such a thing that makes him fall into to the second round?

“It’s hard to say. I don’t want to comment on how other teams reason. But I can say as such, that if we had chosen between choices 20 and 31 in the first round, I would have pitched for Wallinder quite hard. Maybe the other teams did too, but took other names. I don’t know.”

“Then time will tell if it was right or wrong. But this almost always happens, that the teams that choose early in the second round get a player who they themselves ranked seven, ten, maybe twelve choices earlier but who fell down [to them]. We actually had the same situation with Jonatan Berggren, who is doing so well in Skellefteå now, who we had ranked in the first round but which we got at the beginning of the second” (number 33 in 2018, author’s note).


Detroit then completed their hat trick in terms of Swedish selections when they, using choice number 51, picked the Örnskoldsvik-bred Frölunda forward Theodor Niederbac, who’s scored points in the junior team throughout his career, but who hasn’t yet really made it oo Frölunda’s A-team.

“This is a super exciting player. He’s really in the same category as Lucas Raymond. They are both straight-liners, they’re about the same size, and this guy’s main characteristic is that he has a head that works really fast. Raymond has fantastic hands, Niederbach is also sharp there. They are similar in many ways.”

“Many teams talk about the players as ‘top-six’ or ‘bottom six-forwards’ and we see that Niederbach has the potential to become a top six-forward in a few years.” 

A knee injury spoiled the entire Frölunda talent’s season, during 2018/2019, and the way he recovered from it impresses Håkan Andersson.

“Such a [recovery] is weighed as a positive trait. When he started playing hockey again last year, he hadn’t played in 14 months, I think. Still, he basically came in the top ten in points in the league, in the junior series, and then he played against players who were one or two years older than him. Then you saw what potential he has.”

Detroit had thus chose two Frölunda players, and recently Frölunda has taken over as the leading talent-producer in Swedish ice hockey.

“They have a very good reputation over there, really. They have found a plan and a line of development that they are fully implementing, and it obviously works very well.”


The draft was extremely long, and Andersson says that he was not home until 2:00 AM last night – despite the fact that the second round of the draft started already at 5:30 PM yesterday. But apart from the fact that he woke up a little tougher today than usual, he looks back on the draft with very positive eyes.

“We left the draft and were super happy. With the Swedes, we feel that we get three super exciting players with a real upside. During the draft, you’re always quite tense, because you’re worried that you missed a player, or that a player is wrong on the list. But now I’m super happy.”

Now it’s just time start preparing for next year’s draft then …

“Ha ha, exactly. I already started last night…”

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.