To sum up my thoughts on new Anaheim Ducks prospect Max Friberg in one brief, informal sentence, “This kid’s a player.”
Friberg is the skater that stood out the most to me among the new forwards at the conditioning camp. Selected by the Ducks in the 5th round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the left winger didn’t come into camp with the highest expectations from fans and management, but he sure played like it.
Last year Friberg played in the Swedish Division 1 League, scoring 13 goals and 27 assists for 40 points in just 34 games for Skovde IK. He was second on the team in points while playing 6 fewer games than the point leader.
Friberg has a strong game all over the ice. He is a threat in the offensive zone, aggressive between the blue lines, and quick to get back on defense.
The thing that stands out most about Friberg is his confidence. When entering the zone, he isn’t shy about trying nifty moves to get around the defenders. This may not translate well in the NHL where skaters get crushed for being too cute, but Friberg’s confidence and creativity shines through.
Another interesting note is Friberg’s willingness to play in front of the net in the offensive zone. At 5’10″, the young Swede is not nearly as obstructive to goalies as the larger power forwards in the NHL, but he still serves as a distraction and an annoyance to both the goalie and the defensemen. More importantly, it displays Friberg’s willingness to take punishment in order to get the puck in scoring areas.
However, that punishment might take a greater toll on his smaller frame. To get to the NHL level, Friberg will have to rely on speed and agility to overcome the larger opposition. While he is by no means slow, Friberg did not display any extraordinary skating abilities, so it appears he will require a few more years of seasoning before getting close to the NHL.
Friberg is committed to playing for Timra of the Swedish Elite League next year where he will be able to continue to develop his skills on the larger European ice surfaces. Eventually, though, he will need to adjust to the smaller NHL rinks with larger, tougher defensemen.
Friberg has a tough mountain to climb as an undersized forward, but he looks as though he will be able to will himself to higher levels than is expected from a 5’10″ 5th round draft pick.