Swedish defenseman Robin Press is the first blue liner on our Top 25 Under 25 list at No. 21. He's an impressive athlete who brings size, skating and puck-moving ability to the table, although he's still trying to put it all together on the ice. There's a lot to like about his game from a development perspective, so the hope is that we'll see more steady progress next season.
Birth date: Dec. 21, 1994
Acquired via: Seventh round (No. 211 overall) in 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Most recent stop: Djurgardens (SHL)
Size: 6'3, 209 pounds
Highest ranking: No. 17
Lowest ranking: Not ranked
Here's a prospect you can dream on a bit. If Press ends up making it to the NHL, he's going to be fun to watch. The Swedish defenseman brings prototypical size and special gifts with the puck. We've seen guys with similar profiles bust (ahem, David Rundblad, ahem) but if Press manages to put it together, he's going to be a quality offensive-minded blue liner who can play solid defense and really get the puck from zone to zone with his stellar passing skills.
The trouble is that Press remains a work-in-progress when it comes to other aspects of his game. His decision-making in particular is suspect, and after we saw how questionable decision-making helped unravel Rundblad's career in Chicago, Press will need to shore up that part of his game. Assistant GM Norm Maciver said as much to The Athletic's Scott Powers:
"If there’s any knock against him, he tries to do too much at times. He has tremendous ability with the puck. We like his patience with the puck and his ability to pass the puck. Again, sometimes less is more. He’s going to learn when the time is right to make plays and the time is better to keep things simple."
Press is big, mobile and has the ability to be a good puck mover at the next level, so it's just a matter of whether he can put it all together. Last season in the SHL with Djurgardens, he only recorded three points over 51 regular season games and seven playoff games, so he's going to need to show more. Still, he was making his debut in Sweden's top league at age 20, so maybe now that he's gotten his bearings straight, he'll deliver a better performance in 2016-17.
What's next in 2016-17
Press is set to return to Djurgardens next season. He'll need to show improvement from his first season in the SHL in order to really get the Hawks' attention, but it's clear they liked his size and skill, which give him a lot to work with. For a guy drafted in the seventh round, you can still let your imagine run with Press a bit, and that makes him an intriguing prospect to watch in 2016-17.
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Second City Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 rankings
No. 21: Robin Press
No. 22: Dylan Sikura
No. 23: Graham Knott
No. 24: Anthony Louis
No. 25: Roy Radke
Honorable mentions: Radovan Bondra, Joni Tuulola, Mathias From, John Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson