PITTSBURGH — Montreal Canadiens director of player development Trevor Timmins' predilection for smallish skilled forwards continued on Saturday with the selection of Sebastian Collberg at No. 33 overall.
The Habs, who drafted Alex Galchenyuk No. 3 overall on Friday, went strictly for offence with their two second-round picks. Along with taking Collberg, they also snapped up Saskatoon Blades offensive defenceman Dalton Thrower at No. 51.
Some mock drafts had the 5-foot-11, 176-pound Collberg going in the top half of the first round, but a run on defencemen and big-bodied forwards caused the slender Swede to drop out of the first round. The Habs went for the high upside, drafting a player who was an unlikely source of scoring for Team Sweden at the world junior hockey championship. Collberg scored big goals at the tournament and also converted in the shootout during the round-robin win over Switzerland and semifinal triumph over Finland that propelled Tre Kronor to the WJC gold medal.
HockeyProspect.com's NHL Draft Black Book describes Collberg as "a smallish forward with good wheels and the ability to be very shifty on his skates. He is. truly an elite skater. Despite his size, Collberg does compete and gets his nose a little dirty going into the corners fighting for pucks. The problem is he ends up on his rear end far too often. Although his heart is big, his body is truly tiny."
Collberg had zero points in 41 games this past season while playing very sparingly as a 17-year-old Swedish Elite League rookie for Frölunda. If he adds strength to his compact frame, he could be a solid winger whose playmaking could complement No. 3 overall pick Alex Galchenyuk someday.
Thrower, who is 18, had 18 goals and 54 points this season with Saskatoon to place eighth in defenceman scoring in the Western Hockey League. He doesn't have the vision of WHL puck-moving defencemen such as Morgan Rielly (fifth overall, Toronto) and Derrick Pouliot (eighth overall, Pittsburgh). However, he is very canny about getting shots through from the point and jumping up to form odd-man rushes.
Defensively, Thrower is fast and mobile enough laterally that he can stand up forwards at the blueline, although it's not yet a strong suit of his game. One can imagine learning that will be high priority for him next season when he returns to the Blades, who are the host of the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.