We continue our annual prospect review and forecast series with Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, forward for the Hershey Bears. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Axel Jonsson-Fjällby (AJF) is a 23-year-old left-handed winger from Stockholm, Sweden. He was a 5th round draft pick (#147 overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals on May 1, 2018, for $860,000 AAV and received a two-year extension on June 7, 2021.
The 2017-2018 season saw Jonsson-Fjallby play his first full season in the Swedish Hockey League (Djurgardens) where he registered seven goals and nine assists in 42 games played.
His high-water mark for the season came during the World Junior Championships where he made several eye-popping plays. Our piece on his play at the tournament, along with highlight video can be read here. A translated interview with Jonsson-Fjallby conducted after Sweden’s victory over the Czech Republic can be found here. His break-away speed is on display in the second highlight video.
Another high-point for Jonsson-Fjallby came in the 2018 postseason when he scored a pair of goals in a playoff game on March 24th against Linköping (recap and video here.) Overall, he had five goals and one assist for six points in postseason play.
AJF had a decent training camp with the Washington Capitals prior to the 2018-2019 season, but was ultimately re-assigned to Hershey on September 26. He played in 16 games with the Bears, registering two goals and an assist, before exercising an option in his contract to return to Sweden.
AJF’s regular season with Djurgården was disappointing, scoring just one goal and nine assists in 36 games played. At one point late in the regular season, AJF was even a healthy scratch.
However, the postseason was another story for AJF. Part of his battle cry the previous summer was wanting to win a title for Djurgården. He fell one game short of that goal, losing to Frolunda in game 7 of the SHL final on May 2, 2019. AJF scored seven goals and five assists in 19 postseason games.
A majority of his postseason goals came on nice defensive plays/steals of the puck in his own zone, and rocketing down the ice, outskating the opposition, and finishing one on one with the goaltender. His potential value on the penalty kill was on display. Video of his postseason goals can be found in the related links at the bottom of this article.
Following the conclusion of Djurgarden’s postseason, Axel was reassigned to Hershey on May 6th, but he did not see any action for the Bears.
The 2019-2020 season was technically a rookie season for AJF. He recorded 12 goals and 11 assists in 61 games played before the season was cut short by the pandemic. He was third in points and second in goals among all Bears rookies. AJF was a major contributor to Hershey’s highly-ranked penalty kill, rarely taking penalties, with just 10 penalty minutes on the season.
Due to the pandemic and shutdown of hockey in North America, Jonsson-Fjallby was loaned to Vasterviks IF in the second tier of the Swedish Hockey League at the beginning of the 2020-21 season. He recorded just four goals and 11 assists in 26 games played before being recalled to Hershey.
You could see the difference in his game this season. Jonssson-Fjallby recorded 10 goals and five assists in just 31 games, nearly matching his career highs in just half the games. But it was the little things in his game that began to standout. His puck battles, play in tight spaces and along the boards, often the biggest challenges for European players transitioning to North American rink sizes, had shown vast improvement this season. Bears head coach Spencer Carberry made it clear at the beginning of the season that Axel needed to shoot more, be more selfish with the puck and that message has been received.
2020-2021 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2020-2021 season. You can find all of our weekly and monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Axel Jonnson-Fjallby was officially loaned to Vastervik IK of the Swedish HockeyAllsvenskan League on September 14, and began playing preseason games. He centered the top line for the White Horse for the first two preseason games. He was then dropped from 1C to 2C for the final two preseason games. He recorded no points in the four preseason games.
“AJF” began the season playing left wing on the second-line for Vasterviks IK, but was dropped to the right wing on the third-line for Game 2. He flashed the lightning speed early.
Axel had two secondary assists, including one on the game-winner, in Vastervik’s second game of the season.
Axel was kept off the scoresheet in the third game of the season against AIK. Jonsson-Fjallby continued on the third-line for the fourth game of the season against Vasby on October 16. He recorded a secondary assist.
Axel was elevated to 2LW on October 18 against Bjorkloven, but recorded no points. He was then moved to 2C and scored his first and second goals of the season on October 20. Axel’s first goal of the game and first goal of the season came at 10:31 of the opening frame, giving Vasterviks an early 1-0 lead. Using his speed, Jonsson-Fjallby beat the defender to the goal and deflected a net front pass for the tally.
Axel’s second score of the game came on the power play at 9:56 of the third period, tying the game at 2-2. Jonsson-Fjallby would let one rip from the right circle for the game-tying tally.
Johnson-Fjallby would also add an assist with 1:22 remaining in the third period, tying the game 3-3. Vasterviks would fall in the shootout, 4-3.
On October 23, Jonsson-Fjallby was moved to 2RW. He was held off the scoresheet. Jonsson-Fjallby had an assist on Vastervik’s game winning goal on October 30 against MODO. For the season Jonsson-Fjallby has two goals and six assists in 10 games played for Vasterviks IK.
Analysis – Axel’s most productive games have come at the center position, however it appears Vasterviks is trying to work other (full-time) players into the spot. Axel is also seeing more time on the right wing as the month progressed. And it bears repeating, Axel is playing in the HockeyAllsvenskan league, the second tier of the Swedish hockey league.
Vasterviks signed brothers Marcus and Jonathan Davidsson during the first week of November. Both brothers have a long past with Djurgårdens IF, where they often played together with Axel Jonsson Fjällby. The new signings instantly propelled Jonssson-Fjallby to the top line for the second game of the month on November 6. Jonsson-Fjallby scored his third goal of the season on November 18 to help Vasterviks IK beat Vasby 3-2. Jonsson-Fjallby also recorded an assist in the contest.
But Jonsson-Djallby was otherwise really quiet for the month, recording a goal and two assists in seven games. For the season he has three goals and eight assists in 17 games played. He is shooting 5.76%.
ANALYSIS – Jonsson-Fjallby is seeing huge minutes, but the offensive production just isn’t there. He had gone nearly a full month without a score before his tally on November 11. Axel’s other two goals this season came on October 20 against Mora. Again, Vasterviks is in the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan of the Swedish league, so one would assume Axel should be thriving.
According to HockeySverige.se, Washington Capitals forward prospect Axel Jonsson-Fjällby was not recalled for the Capitals’ upcoming training camp. By now, most NHL loans have left Sweden and returned to their parent clubs in North America to begin preparations for the coming season. However, Axel Jonsson-Fjällby currently remains in Sweden. The 22-year-old was loaned from the Capitals to Västerviks IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan league on September 14. Now Vasterviks coach Mattias Karlin tells VT.se that Jonsson-Fjällby will not participate in Washington’s camp – and that he can thus remain with the club. More here.
As for his playing time, Jonsson-Fjallby continued to play on the left wing of the second-line for Vasterviks. As for his play with Vasterviks IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan league, his scoring remained scarce for the month of December, all while his playing time remained consistent at around 18-20 minutes per game. For the month, Jonsson-Fjallby had no goals and two assists in six games played in December. For the season he has three goals and 10 assists in 23 games played, and is a plus-5. He has a shooting percentage of 5.1%, down from last month’s 5.7%.
Jonsson-Fjallby wrapped up his loan to Vasterviks early in January, where he recorded four goals and 11 assists in 26 games played in the HockeyAllsvenskan league.
According to the Vasterviks team website, Jonsson-Fjallby had been recalled to North America on January 7. The team’s website reported that Jonsson-Fjallby’s last game with Vasterviks IK was on January 8 against MODO.
Jonsson-Fjallby was formally re-assigned to Hershey on January 11. The Bears opened training camp on Saturday, January 23. The season begins for the Bears on February 5 against the Binghamton Devils.
The Swedish winger is one of the team’s most effective penalty killers. He is a threat to score shorthanded every time he takes the ice and his speed causes issues for the opponent’s power play unit. Jonsson-Fjallby always seems to be in the right position on the kill and is good at breaking up passes. He has had several shorthanded opportunities, but has not converted on any of them as of yet.
The Stockholm, Sweden native has been a bit snake bitten, offensively, but finally broke through with his first goal of the season against Binghamton on February 26. He took a stretch pass from Connor McMichael and fired his shot over the glove to give Hershey a 4-1 lead. The goal turned out to be the game-winner after Binghamton scored twice in the third period.
Jonsson-Fjallby got off to a hot start in March. The Swede netted three goals in the first two games of the month. He tallied on a shorthanded breakaway at Lehigh Valley on March 3.
Jonsson-Fjallby followed that up with a two-goal performance against Lehigh Valley on March 6. His first goal came with 1:39 left in the opening period. He skated into the zone in the middle of the ice and wristed a shot, blocker side, past Lehigh Valley goalie Felix Sandstrom.
The Stockholm, Sweden native then converted from in close in the second to give the Bears a 2-0 lead.
After the fast start, Jonsson-Fjallby went on a four-game pointless streak and has one point in his last eight games. He still finds ways to contribute. The speedy Swedish winger is one of Hershey’s best penalty killers and he is a threat to score shorthanded every time out.
Jonsson-Fjallby started the month recording his the first three-point game of his AHL career when he dished out three assists in a game against Binghamton. The Swedish winger skated in his 100th career AHL game at Lehigh Valley on April 21. He marked the occasion by scoring a goal off of a great individual effort. He collected the puck in his own zone and skated into the Bears offensive zone. Jonsson-Fjallby then wristed a low shot into the net.
The goal kickstarted a three-game goal streak for the speedy winger. In his next game, the Swede broke the deadlock in a scoreless game early in the third period against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on April 24. He shoveled a loose puck in to start the scoring in a game the Bears would eventually win 3-1.
He then tallied his team-best second shorthanded goal on April 25 after he used his speed to blow past the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defense and wrist home his shot.
Jonsson-Fjallby’s speed is a big weapon, especially on the penalty kill. He is one of the biggest reasons Hershey is tied for the AHL lead in shorthanded goals. He leads the team with two shorthanded tallies and is tied for sixth in the league in that category. Jonsson-Fjallby also has a shorthanded assist.
Jonsson-Fjallby has seven goals and five assists in 26 games played so far this season. He’s taken 44 shots for a 15.9% shooting percentage, his nest rate so far in the AHL.
The speedy Swedish winger finished the season on a strong goal scoring run. Jonsson-Fjallby tallied a goal in three of the five games he played in May and six in his final nine games of the season.
The run brought his season goal total to 10. He finished with three game-winning goals, tied for the second most on the team. It is the second straight season that the Swede has scored 10 or more goals.
He added five helpers to end the season with 15 points. Jonsson-Fjallby was Hershey’s most dangerous penalty killer.
The Stockholm, Sweden native did score twice shorthanded, tied for the fourth most in the AHL. Jonsson-Fjallby’s speed and penalty kill abilities put him in a position to earn an NHL roster spot in a bottom six role. He likely would have been recalled to Washington for the playoffs if not for suffering an injury to his left foot/ankle that forced him to miss the final two games of the season.
“He’s got a phenomenal shot. He doesn’t use it enough. And he loves to pass,” said Bears head coach Spencer Carbery following a Bears game back in March. “He loves to try to make passes when he should be shoot first, shoot first, shoot first. Because it’s hard to pick up. His release is difficult to pick up. And our goaltending coach Alex Westlund and I have had conversations. His shot, it has movement on it. It’s like that fastball that moves. So we just continue, shoot, shoot, shoot.”
Jonaason-Fjallby is poised to make a run at a potential roster spot with the Capitals. He will likely begin the season in Hershey, and may play the year there, but his development trajectory could have him playing a bottom six winger spot for the Capitals in the very near future.
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By Jon Sorensen