It’s been an interesting year for Detroit Red Wings prospect Jonatan Berggren.
Detroit’s 2018 second-round pick has dominated in the AHL this season—14 goals and 36 points in 33 games—but that hasn’t been enough to warrant a full-time NHL role. When he has been called upon to contribute at the NHL level, he has – Berggren has five points in nine contests, averaging just over 10 minutes of ice time per game.
Given the AHL production, lack of NHL ice time, and the rumors, you have to wonder what’s in store for Berggren. Does he have a future in Detroit? Or is he, in fact, a trade chip? Let’s explore this further.
Berggren’s Future With the Red Wings
Looking ahead to this summer, Berggren is scheduled to become a restricted free agent (RFA). He’ll also be eligible to file for arbitration if he so chooses.
In addition, Berggren will require waivers to be assigned to the AHL next year. Playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins really isn’t an option beyond this season.
So, does Berggren have a spot on next year’s Red Wings team? The answer is, most likely. An early look at Detroit’s 2024-25 depth chart suggests that the franchise has a few spots in the lineup to fill – ones that Berggren is qualified for.
Missing from the depth chart above are Patrick Kane, David Perron, Daniel Sprong, and Christian Fischer, who will all be unrestricted free agents (UFAs) this summer. Some could return, and the Red Wings will likely pursue external UFAs as well.
You also have to think that Nate Danielson, Marco Kasper, and Carter Mazur will get a long look for NHL roles in training camp. These three players have shined recently in their respective leagues.
Given this information, Berggren should have a spot on next year’s team. It will likely be in the bottom six, but it’s a permanent role nonetheless.
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Where things get interesting is when you fast-forward to the 2028-29 season. Based on players currently in the system, Berggren could still be in the bottom six. And it’s reasonable to expect that players currently outside the organization will be brought in over the next five years.
In my opinion, that’s his ceiling – a third-line wing similar to Robby Fabbri. Berggren should be able to contribute 0.5 to 0.6 points per game consistently given his playmaking, expected even-strength deployment, and a role on the second power play. That’s a Fabbri-level of production, even if Berggren is more of a playmaker than finisher.
What Should the Red Wings Do With Berggren?
In the immediate term, the Red Wings should call up Berggren if there’s an injury to one of their top-nine forwards. His AHL production certainly warrants it.
Detroit should keep Berggren in the organization with the intent of deploying him in a full-time NHL role next season. He has NHL-caliber talent, and the Red Wings have space for Berggren to flourish moving into the future.
That said, he’s not an “untouchable” in the system. Detroit should consider trading him if it’s part of a package for a top-six forward or top-four defenseman with term who would be part of the future – similar to the deal for Alex DeBrincat.
Ideally, though, Berggren is part of Detroit’s future.