The Buffalo Sabres announced on Monday that they have claimed Washington Capitals’ forward Axel Jonsson-Fjallby off waivers. Jonsson-Fjallby was placed on waivers by the Capitals on Sunday, with the intention of reassigning to Hershey.
We have claimed forward Axel Jonsson-Fjallby off of waivers.#LetsGoBuffalo
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) October 4, 2021
Fjallby, 23, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Capitals in 2016. He tallied 15 points (10+5) in 31 games with AHL Hershey last season. 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.
By Jon Sorensen