When the list of pending RFAs who weren’t being tendered a qualifying provide got here out shortly after the deadline for groups to make the provide handed, loads of fascinating names headlined the record, reminiscent of Sonny Milano, Haydn Fleury, Brendan Lemieux, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome, simply to call just a few. Some of these gamers went on to signal comparatively sturdy free-agent contracts with different groups, Strome being the prime instance; some returned to their groups at a price extra palatable to the group, like Lemieux who signed for $1.35M over one yr, lower than the $1.65M qualifying provide he was due; and a few gamers have but to discover a house.
One of these gamers but to discover a house is ahead Jonathan Dahlen, who was non-tendered by the San Jose Sharks. While there are some non-tendered gamers for whom or not it’s clear why they haven’t discovered a house for 2021-22, with Dahlen, it might be a bit puzzling. At 24, Dahlen simply wrapped up his rookie season within the NHL, the place he scored 12 targets to go along with 10 assists in 61 NHL contests. Dahlen’s rookie season wasn’t essentially the most spectacular in historical past, and even this season; nevertheless it did characterize a succesful and general strong season from a participant who has taken a while to develop and regulate to the North American sport.
A second-round decide of the Ottawa Senators in 2016, Dahlen was traded twice earlier than he ever had the possibility to make his NHL debut. Less than a yr after he was drafted, Ottawa moved him to the Vancouver Canucks within the deal that despatched Alexandre Burrows to the Senators. Almost two years to the day later, Vancouver dealt him to San Jose for Linus Karlsson. Prior to his North American debut, Dahlen established himself as a dependable scoring menace in Sweden, with 29 factors in 51 video games as an 18-year-old for Timra in Sweden’s second-highest league in his draft yr. The ahead broke out and constructed on his efficiency with 44 factors in 45 video games, and 44 factors in 44 video games over every of the subsequent two seasons.
With the Swedish success bolstering his growth, Dahlen got here to North America, enjoying his first full season in 2018-19, the place he had 33 factors in 57 video games break up between the Utica Comets and San Jose Barracuda within the AHL. Although it was removed from a poor efficiency, it wasn’t the step ahead imagined for Dahlen, who would return to Sweden and Timra for an additional season. Here, Dahlen grew to become a star, placing up a whopping 36 targets and 41 assists in a mere 51 video games, following that up with 25 targets and 46 assists in 45 video games the yr after.
Powered by his stardom with Timra, Dahlen returned to North America for the 2021-22 season and very similar to his first go of it, it was good, but it surely simply wasn’t the subsequent step of repeating the Swedish efficiency over right here. His 22 factors ranked him eleventh amongst all NHL rookies, his common time on ice additionally rating eleventh amongst rookies who had a minimum of 40 video games performed. More regarding, nevertheless, was a -25 ranking that was decrease than his total level whole and got here with a comparatively good 52.0 CF%, all of which put collectively raises some considerations about Dahlen’s sport. Considering the flat-out elite performances he’s had in Sweden, it’s straightforward to grasp why Dahlen’s NHL debut was underwhelming, if not disappointing. But, that stated, if he’s actually inquisitive about staying within the NHL, it’s fascinating to see that he stays unsigned roughly a month after he hit the market.
2021-22/Career: 61 GP, 12 G, 10 A, 22 pts, -25 ranking, 12 PIMs, 105 pictures, 52.0 CF%, 13:48 ATOI
Given a few of Dahlen’s struggles, most highlighted by the -25 ranking, many groups could possibly be cautious about giving alternatives to a participant who could battle this a lot in his personal zone, as in comparison with the offense he does deliver. On the opposite hand, for some groups, that danger could also be price taking in the event that they view Dahlen’s 22 factors as one thing that’s lower than his functionality within the NHL and one thing that their group may help to develop.
Regardless of whether or not a group can develop his sport or not, Dahlen could possibly be a goal for an older group with much less payroll flexibility that’s wanting so as to add a spark. Unlike most of the gamers profiled on this sequence, Dahlen is somewhat younger, nonetheless simply 24 for an additional 4 months and will, at the same time as a depth participant, add some vitality when he’s on the ice that gamers maybe 10 years his senior can’t bodily deliver anymore.
Another possibility for Dahlen, one that could be pretty attractive at this level, can be to return to Sweden or one other European league. History reveals that Dahlen can deal with the North American sport and produce when he’s on the ice, however in Sweden’s second league, he turns into an MVP-caliber star. For a participant like Dahlen, the chance to be on the forefront of a league near house, enjoying first-line minutes, could possibly be an especially engaging alternative, particularly if the choice is a extra restricted function removed from house, maybe not even within the NHL.
The ahead made $750K final yr as a rookie, and with that determine being the minimal wage within the NHL for 2022-23, the Sharks have been seemingly unwilling to deliver again Dahlen even at that quantity. If Dahlen is to safe a contract for subsequent season, the more than likely alternative will likely be on a two-way deal or a PTO, and the results of the PTO should be a two-way deal. This actuality nonetheless wouldn’t be a foul factor, with a two-way deal probably affording him possibilities to play within the NHL subsequent yr, and given his age and former prospect standing, groups would nonetheless give shut consideration to his progress and skillset searching for a cut price.