Following being named Detroit Red Wings Rookie of the Year, can the man nicknamed ‘Johnny Burgers’ inch himself into a top-six role as early as this season?
Consistency needs to be a primary focus for Jonatan Berggren this summer. Last year Berggren went through goalless stretches similar to the ones I recently described with Joe Veleno. Berggren went through a period where he scored just once over an 11-game span, and then again, down the final stretch of the regular season, he recorded just three goals over the last 20 games. Part of being a consistent player at the NHL level night in and night out comes with experience. The effort and consistency should level out as these young bottom-six forwards continue to play. But it needs to happen fairly quickly because Yzerman has a bunch of young options that are chomping at the bit.
Overall, the 23-year-old winger enjoyed a solid rookie season last year, with the Detroit Red Wings recording 15 goals and 28 points over 67 games. He also maintained a 47.3 Corsi For Percentage while playing over 13 minutes per night but was a -14 on the year. Even with those lengthy goal drought stretches, Berggren maintained a shooting percentage of 15.3%. He attempted 158 shots getting 98 on target, good for an average of 1.46 shots on goal per game. The Detroit Red Wings need to urge this young man to shoot more frequently this upcoming season. The Swedish-born playmaker ranked seventh in goals and 14th in points among rookie skaters last season. Berggren recorded five power-play goals and totaled nine power-play points.
The Detroit Red Wings hope to see a more consistent Jonatan Berggren this season.
Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde acknowledged Berggren’s dip in production as the season went on.
"“I have no problem saying he took a dip in his game towards the end of the year,” Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said of Berggren. “Understandable for young players. We asked a lot of those guys. After the (NHL trade) deadline his role increased more and there was an obvious dip in his production, and in some of his five-on-five play.”"
Here is what veteran winger David Perron had to say about Berggren following the season.
"“I thought Bergie was a nice surprise coming in,” Detroit forward David Perron said. “I think there will be even more competition next year for him to come, so I think he needs to have a good summer as well.”"
Added competition is very accurate. The Detroit Red Wings added a plethora of depth forwards that all can contribute, not just on the scoresheet. Christian Fischer and Klim Kostin can all help with the penalty kill.
J.T. Compher will help both on the power play and penalty kill. Alex Debrincat and Daniel Sprong will help bolster Detroit’s power play, leaving a player like Berggren needing to find some consistency when he’s not transporting the puck and become a bit more of a rounded player, particularly in the defensive zone if he hopes to see an increased role in 2023-24. Back to the initial question. Can Berggren play himself into a top-six role?
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There is certainly a possibility, especially following the trade deadline. If the Detroit Red Wings are not in or near a playoff position ahead of the deadline, we could see pending unrestricted free-agent players like David Perron, Daniel Sprong, and Christain Fischer all dealt. That would allow a player like Berggren to earn a more prominent role down the final quarter of the season.