The Key Stat: Is it crazy to say that his 23 games played are the most remarkable stat to pull out for the 23-year-old Swede? In fact, when considering his trajectory in Washington, looking back before the year started it seemed somewhere in the spectrum from unlikely to impossible that Axel Jonsson-Fjallby might ever suit up in the red, white, and blue. After a come-down season with the Hershey Bears in 2020-21 where he tallied just 15 points in 31 games, it began to seem increasingly improbable that the Capitals’ 2016 fifth-rounder was on a trajectory to move beyond the AHL level. After being put on waivers during training camp, he was claimed by Buffalo and was seeming on to the next chapter of his hockey career. But fate, or the too-complicated bureaucracy that led to visa issues preventing Jonsson-Fjallby from changing employers while working away from his homeland, found a way to intervene. So he came nearly immediately back under the Caps’ organizational umbrella and back to Hershey, where he tallied his career-best numbers until the stars aligned and AJF finally got his shot, and an extended one at that, to play for the very first time for the club that drafted him back in 2018.
The Good: As a fill-in replacement on the 4th line for Carl Hagelin, Jonsson-Fjallby proved to be a suitable facsimile of the 11-year pro whom he was conscripted to replace due to a season-ending eye injury in late February. It wasn’t just their shared Swedish connection, the two play a very similar style of game: a silky pace in the open ice outside of the dots, disciplined skating and demonstrative puck-handling, and a selfless and tactical acumen in the defensive zone. While up in Washington, AJF played stout minutes on the fourth line alongside Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway. Despite a lack of big-league experience, he played a smart game, picking up just four penalty minutes over his 257 minutes on the ice. Down on the farm at Hershey, he also had a break-out season in between stints in D.C., recording career-bests in goals (16), assists (18), and points (34.)
The Bad: Not that it was necessarily expected of him, but those offensive numbers at the AHL level did not materialize immediately when suiting up alongside NHL competition. Jonsson-Fjallby tallied just two goals and two assists, with a 6.9% shooting percentage. Despite being given the opportunity to seize the opened roster spot on the 4th line, he was unable to cement himself in the role and saw his starting spot supplanted by the acquisition of another fellow Swede, Johan Larsson at the midseason trade deadline, and in the suite level in favor of Brett Leason during the playoffs.
IIIIIITTTT’SSS TEDDY BEAR TOSS TIME!!!!
Near the top of my Sports Bucket List is to be in attendance for the Hershey Bears' annual teddy bear toss game. Having had the opportunity to attend a decent number of Bears games at the Giant Center during my six-year
sentence stint living in central Pennsylvania, I can vouch that this game was the talk of the town in the weeks leading up to the big day. While I haven’t yet found the opportunity to haul a garbage bag of toys into a jam-packed hockey arena in person just yet, I absolutely circle the calendar every year and refresh Twitter avidly in the minutes following puck drop on the night of the big event. This year AJF netted the fateful first goal of the contest to rain down a hailstorm of fluffy children's toys. Once again, the Bears’ fans re-established a new world record by collecting 52,341 stuffed toys to be donated to local charities on the twentieth anniversary of the annual promotion, and Jonsson-Fjallby stamped his way into video montages for years to come.
Can, or will, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby earn a spot on the opening-night roster in the fall of 2022? What area of Jonsson-Fjallby’s game needs to improve for him in order to become an impact player? Would you prefer to see AJF permanently slot in for Carl Hagelin (assuming he is healthy enough to play?) And finally, what would it take for you to give Jonsson-Fjallby a 10 next season?
The Vote: Rate Axel Jonsson-Fjallby below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
How do you rate Axel Jonsson-Fjallby’s 2021-22 season?
This poll is closed