Position: Right Wing
Team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Date of Birth: April 10, 1995
Place of Birth: Herning, Denmark
Ht: 5'11" Wt: 165 lbs
2012-2013 Regular Season Stats:
2012-2013 Playoff Stats:
Oliver Bjorkstrand came to the WHL from Denmark, and it's easy to see why he was thought of so highly. He's a natural, pure goal-scorer with a tremendous shot, and though he's undersized he has the willingness to work and to battle and is tough to knock off the puck. He has a good defensive effort, but he will need to work on his strength and his overall skating to become and NHL impact player.
Bjorkstrand is ranked #36 in the final Central Scouting North American Skater rankings.
Bjorkstrand came to the WHL after spending the past few years in Denmark, and he was a solid addition for the Memorial Cup runners-up. He is a skilled player with good raw puck possession elements. He is very coordinated in tight, and he has flashy elements in his puck handling. Bjorkstrand is a little small at only about 5'10"-5'11" tall, but he still protects and maintains control of the puck well, showing good battle effort. That said, he could stand to gain more strength. His work ethic and his hockey sense allow him to be a quality defensive forward, and his awareness lets him be a gifted playmaker. Bjorkstrand's main concern is his skating. His stride is not the best, and while he has some power in his lower body, he is not able to get the fluid movements needed to maximize energy transfer with each step.
Bjorkstrand is a natural sniper who has very heavy wrist and snap shots, along with an excellent one-timer. His shooting arsenal features an excellent release which he uses to fool goaltenders when he is coming down the wing on a rush, or after setting up in the offensive zone. He has a real knack for getting open either by trailing slightly behind on rush, or by finding the soft spot in the defence to unleash his vast shooting arsenal. A tad undersized, has outstanding stickhandling and is tough to knock off the puck. He is very shifty and is able to avoid checks and buy time for his teammates to get open. He is an underrated playmaker with very good vision and passing skills. Bjorkstrand attempts to go to the key areas, and shows no lack of intensity in battling for pucks along the boards, but he must get stronger before he is able to really be successful in this aspect of his game.
Bjorkstrand is a quick skater, but is not overly fast in terms of straight line speed. His acceleration is good though, and his ability to change gears allows him to beat defenders off the rush. Bjorkstrand has great agility, and edgework. This makes him very shifty, and able to avoid hits from defenders both on the rush, and when he cyles the puck. His agility and quickness allow him to elude defenders and buy time to make plays for teammates. His lateral movement is very good and Bjorkstrand is able to weave his way in and out of traffic. Bjorkstand has good balance and is harder to knock off the puck than you would expect, but he still has a lot of bulking up to do to reach the pro level.
Bjorkstrand is a solid defender capable of playing a good two way game. He doesn’t quit on the back check and his quickness and hockey sense allow him to anticipate plays and cause turnovers. When he does so, he is able to quickly transition that turnover into instant offence. Responsible in his assignments and cutting off passing and shooting lanes, the Winterhawks have been known to use Bjorkstrand on the penalty kill at times.
Why he'd be a good fit in Columbus:
Bjorkstrand has the offensive tools to be a possible NHL player down the line, though he will need some more time in juniors and then the AHL in order to get stronger and faster. He may not get any taller, which sucks, but he's got the puck skills and the willingness to work to become a decent addition to the Blue Jackets' system.
Bjorkstrand in Action