Flyers Draft Profile: Axel Sandin-Pellikka

2022 NHL Entry Draft
Hockey team participate during the second day of the 2022 NHL Draft on Friday, July 8, 2022 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

Axel Sandin-Pellikka is one of the top defensemen in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft class. He could the first blueliner selected after David Reinbacher suffered a knee injury last month.

In 2022-2023, Sandin-Pellikka notched 36 points in 31 games for Skelleftea AIK 20 in the J20 Nationell. Additionally, he competed with Skelleftea AIK in the SHL, scoring five points in 22 games. Sandin-Pellikka competed in the U18 and U20 World Juniors last season. He helped Sweden to a silver medal in the U18 Worlds Juniors, scoring 11 points in seven games.

A right-handed defenseman, Sandin-Pellikka is the seventh-ranked European skater per NHL Central Scouting.

Strengths

Sandin-Pellikka stands at 5’11” and 181lbs. A shorter defenseman by stature, he’s an offensive defenseman. Sandin-Pellikka possesses strong and fluid skating abilities. His first few strides are explosive, along with incredible edge work. He’s able to jump into the transition quickly, and rarely loses speed. Just like Cale Makar, Sandin-Pellikka makes his skating look effortless.

Having an offensive mindset, Sandin-Pellikka is active with the puck. He likes to drive play; his high awareness and vision allow him to be a creative passer. He can feed passes to his teammates no matter the situation, and if a turnover is caused by the opponent, he has the speed to transition back quickly. Sandin-Pellikka is a playmaker on the blue line, a reason why he’s one of this year’s top defensive prospects.

When defending, Sandin-Pellikka is aggressive. Although he doesn’t have the biggest frame as a defenseman, he’s not afraid to throw his body around and get into an opponent’s face. Due to his speed and gap control, Sandin-Pellikka forces a lot of dump-ins for opponents.

Sandin-Pellikka draws comparisons to a few NHL defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Rasmus Dahlin, and Erik Karlsson.

Weaknesses

When he has the puck in the defensive end, Sandin-Pellikka can cough it up when under pressure. His size is also an obvious disadvantage. When facing larger forwards, Sandin-Pellikka is outmatched. However, his skating can help him escape scenarios when he might be vulnerable.

Sandin-Pellikka will need to add more to his frame to keep up with the aggressiveness of the NHL. He’ll need to spend a few more years in the SHL to develop his game before jumping over to North America.

Does he fit Philadelphia?

The Flyers lack depth with right-handed defensemen. Like Reinbacher, Sandin-Pellikka would provide needed skill along with versatility on the right side. He would fill an organizational need, but with the Flyers drafting at seventh overall, they shouldn’t select Sandin-Pellikka.

It wouldn’t be wise for Daniel Briere to pass on one of the elite-level forwards in an offensive-loaded draft class. If the Flyers do like Sandin-Pellikka’s game and believe he would be a strong fit with the organization moving forward, then acquiring another first-round pick later in the round could be an option.

(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)