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2024 NHL DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT (VIDEOS + GRADES): Alfons Freij, D, Växjö Lakers HC J20, J20 Nationell

220826 Sveriges Alfons Freij under P17-landskampen i ishockey mellan Sverige och Finland den 26 augusti 2022 i Nyköping. Foto: Jesper Zerman / BILDBYRÅN / COP 234 / JZ0226
Alfons Freij
2024 NHL Draft Eligible
Växjö Lakers HC J20, J20 Nationell
Position: LD/RD, Shoots: Left
H/W: 6’1, 192lbs
D.O.B.: 12/02/2006 - Sweden

There seems to be a general consensus among scouts that the Swedish region features a weaker draft class than usual for 2024. Some have even gone as far as to say that there is a good chance no Swede will get drafted in the first round. While it may be true that there aren’t as many obvious high-end talents to get excited about, the Swedish region does have some diamonds in the rough. Perhaps one of the most brilliant diamonds to have commanded my attention this year is Växjö Lakers J20 blueliner Alfons Freij.

He was a standout performer for a rather disappointing Swedish team at the Hlinka Gretzky tournament in August and a solid contributor at both the WJAC in Canada and the u18 Five Nations tournament in Finland. Additionally, he has been an electrifying presence on the backend for Växjö all season long in the J20. With 11 G, 15 A in 33 GP in the J20 Nationell and 4 G, 14 A in 15 GP internationally (as of writing this), Freij is enjoying a very productive draft year while showcasing all the abilities and attributes of a high-upside offensive puck-moving defenceman – easily the best in the region, in this humble scout’s opinion.

Despite being somewhat overlooked, Alfons Freij has consistently shown that he is a dynamic, mobile, offensive puck-moving defenceman – perhaps even one of the best in the class – all year long. His skating, which will likely be a tremendous strength even in the NHL, is the foundation on which his game is built on. Freij is able to process the game at the speed he plays it – fast! This opens up worlds of time and space for his playmaking and shooting, as well as the effectiveness of his stickhandling and body fakes. His defending and physical presence may not be stellar yet, but he has good habits when it comes to retrievals and zone entry denials. While his over-aggression, especially his shooting decisions, can be frustrating, the pros of his hockey sense and decision-making heavily outweigh the cons. NHL teams looking for a puck-moving defenceman who can score 40-something points a season while not getting caved in defensively should be looking at Alfons Freij, as he is firmly at the top of my list of defencemen in the Swedish region.



Freij’s biggest asset is his skating and should stay an incredible asset at the NHL level. His strides are smooth, he shifts his weight gracefully and turns on a dime. He uses crossovers to build up speed laterally along the blue line and uses C-cuts on defence to maintain his body between man and net, turned towards the play. While Freij’s mobility and fluidity of his movements are great, they aren’t necessarily things that set him apart from other defencemen in his region. However, in combination with the explosiveness of his north-south speed, I don’t think there is a single defenceman that can touch him. Ask the helpless forecheckers in the J20 who have to try and stop him when he gets on his horse and decides to carry the puck from behind his net all the way behind the net in the offensive zone.

It's not just Freij’s mechanics that allow him to skate like the wind. It starts with his ability to identify skating lanes and his willingness to attack the open ice that is afforded to him. To be fair, what is “afforded to him” isn’t usually much, but he has the ability to take it anyway. Even without the puck, his ability to support the rush is like having a 4th forward out there. He knows to stay wide and not crowd the puck carrier, when to turn on the jets to receive the pass, and when to control his speed and act as the trailer.

When carrying the puck in transition, his fantastic speed creates a ton of separation between him and the forecheckers. He is able to manipulate others with shifty head and body fakes, which isn’t easy to do in stride. Zone exits/entries and rush opportunities are huge parts of Freij’s game, and they have led to a steady diet of points for himself and his teammates.

Here we see an example of Freij (#86 white) reading the play well before turning on the jets and supporting his teammate taking a turnover the other way – turning what would typically just be a chip n’ change into a quality rush chance. His blazing speed will make defenders think twice before pinching or trying to keep play alive along the blueline when he’s on the ice.

Freij (#86 blue) building up some speed and catching the whole team in white sleeping, carrying the puck into the offensive zone and getting a shot off in stride. While the shot itself doesn’t come from the best angle, this clip reinforces Freij’s “give an inch, take a mile” offensive mentality. Why not, when you can skate like that?

In this clip, Freij (#86 white) shows us a high degree of mobility and adaptability. Initially calling for the pass, he recognizes it would open up more space if he skated toward his teammate to accept the handoff. He then takes a nice skate around the zone, prodding for openings and looking them off when deemed not good enough, before finally passing it off once he’s come full circle.

After a pretty rough giveaway in the offensive zone and looking like he just gave up a partial breakaway, Freij (#86 blue) absolutely books it – and I mean BOOKS it – back to fix his mistake. He arrives just in the nick of time to get a stick on it and disrupt the shot from behind. Love the speed and the compete level from him on this play.

Put it all together and what do you get? This clip of Alfons Freij (#86 white) being a human cheat code! Look at the straight-line speed, start-stop, change in direction, deceptive body fakes… he looks untouchable, truly a sight to behold. There are countless examples of Freij carrying the puck coast to coast I could have included, but I chose this one because of how ridiculous he looks here.



While he can kill you with his skating speed and his excellent playmaking ability, Freij also boasts an impressive arsenal of shots. He can load up his wrister, fire a snapshot on the rush, or let loose on a one-timer. He’s got quick hands and can get shots off from tough angles, as well as in stride. You really see Freij’s shot shine when he gets his feet moving and activates into the play, sending flat-footed opponents into a frantic state trying to get in front of him. It is a tool that defenders must be aware of and must respect – he doesn’t score all of those goals by chance.

He tends to shoot a lot over the course of a game, for better or for worse. His overeagerness to shoot can sometimes work in his favour, as defenders bite on his fakes more often than they probably should. This opens up space for his teammates to receive the puck and take a shot of their own, or for Freij to take a few extra steps and get a better-quality chance. However, I don’t think defenders at higher levels will fall for that sort of trickery and his poor shooting decisions will be punished much more harshly. If he can learn to pick his spots better, I think his shot will become much more effective not only as a scoring weapon but as a space creator to compliment his playmaking ability.

Freij (#86 white) received the puck at the point, faked a shot before a couple of extra steps and wired a gorgeous bar-down wrister. Fantastic display of awareness to recognize he had a wide-open lane down the middle to attack rather than settling for a weaker quality shot from the top of the point.

Freij (#20 yellow) tees up and blasts an absolute rocket of a one-timer. He can really get a ton of power behind his shots, as that puck was off his stick and in the net in the blink of an eye. Great shooting form as well, keeping a level head and his follow-through towards his target.

Some might say this is all thanks to a fortuitous bounce, but I say you make your own luck. Freij (#86 white) and his teammates get set up for what looks to be a dump and chase, but the dump in ricochets off of a Farjestad player’s leg and onto a Växjö player’s stick. The Växjö player then makes a nice pass to Freij (who never stopped moving his feet), finding himself all alone in front, who then swiftly pushes the puck up and in the back of the net. Great hands to get the shot off, excellent anticipation to follow the play, and gets rewarded with a goal.

Here we see Freij (#86 blue) getting his feet moving and showcasing a nice snapshot. The shot itself is from the perimeter and from a tough angle, but I love that he’s got such an impressive arsenal of shots.

Creating offence just comes so naturally to a player like Freij (#86 white) who’s got such an impressive offensive toolkit. He’s like a video game character, just dancing around what might as well be a bunch of pylons to get this shot off.

GRADE: 52.5


Freij’s skating is finely complimented by his quick hands and deceptive body movements. These skills allow him to solve problems in tight such as safely navigating around hi-tempo forechecking pressure behind his net, manipulating the sticks and body positioning of defenders in order to open up skating and passing lanes in transition, and to fake out opponents attempting to close him out near the point in the offensive zone, granting him more time and space to make a quality play. His stickhandling is made less predictable by his hands not being in rhythm with his skating strides, adding an extra layer of deception on the rush.

Freij’s also a reliable passer in all situations. He has no trouble with the shorter, simple first pass on breakouts, as well as the ambitious two-liner to a streaking teammate near the offensive blue line. He definitely treats the defensive zone as a launching pad for offence rather than a place to simply clear the puck from. Freij’s vision and awareness grants him the ability to not only be a consistent pass-threat, but a dynamic one too. It should be no surprise that he is able to move the puck so well in transition because of how well his skating, handling, and passing play off of each other. If one option closes, another one opens.

A little shake and bake from Freij (#86 blue) as he activates into the play, feinting moves with a combination of the stick and body. While there wasn’t a whole lot that opened up for him, the idea was great and he still managed to attract the attention of multiple defenders – meaning somewhere, a teammate was open.

Solving problems and saucing passes – the Freij (#86 blue) way. He starts off with a nice feint on a forechecker and starts the breakout with a great first pass. He supports the movement of the puck up ice and pulls off a gorgeous give-n-go play at the blue line. He makes these sorts of plays look easy when they are anything but.

It almost looks like Freij (#86 blue) is toying with the defence on this sequence. He receives the puck at the blue line, shimmy-shakes his shoulders and hips while stickhandling in place and explodes along the wall before firing a hard cross-ice pass to his teammate who’s gliding towards the far post. The vision and playmaking ability that Freij is able to display so consistently is really something else.

Perhaps a little mundane, but here’s an example of how Freij (#86 white) draws in pressure before sending a great first pass to get the breakout started. The breakout itself doesn’t work here, but I wanted to highlight the creativity of Freij’s pass arsenal in situations like these.

A big reason Freij (#86 blue) is able to pull off these plays, fakes and moves is his great pre-scanning habits. He’s constantly moving his head and mapping out the ice, looking for targets to hit with a pass – like he does here with this fantastic slip pass for a high-danger scoring chance.

Tunnell! Freij (#20 yellow) with a cheeky, but impressive pass between the legs of the poor Slovak defender for a beautiful assist on this goal. This is what exciting, high-end playmaking ability looks like – not just hitting targets and making everyone around you better, but also making opponents look silly in the process!



Freij is a smart hockey player, and no amount of over-aggression will change that. He reads the play very well, he has excellent scanning habits, which affords him time to plan out his moves, and he rarely bails out of pressured situations. He maintains a high level of focus, intensity and awareness whenever he is on the ice, and he is able to solve whatever obstacles may be thrown his way with little trouble.

Freij is definitely an offensive-minded defenceman, and he plays as such. His mentality is “get the puck, move the puck, make some offence happen”. His aggressiveness on-puck is a double-edged sword – such is life when you think high-risk, high-reward as much as Freij does. While he doesn’t run himself into trouble very often, he does have a tendency to force shots through when there is no shooting lane available, which can be maddening to watch. I feel like this is less of a vision problem and more of a “fixation on an idea that pops into his head” problem, deciding he’s going to shoot no matter what. Typically, this sort of this ends with a big, fat turnover. Hopefully, he’ll shake that off as he matures, as coaches will come down harder on that at higher levels.

Despite that little blemish, his off-puck positioning and movement are stellar. He pinches at inopportune times and he rarely skates himself into trouble, putting his team at a disadvantage. He’s got exceptional processing speed – almost as fast as he skates! He can adjust his rush pattern on the fly, find quality pass options in stride, and quickly identify escape options when things go south.

Many of these clips could certainly be included as highlights for some of Freij’s (#86 white) other abilities, and this one is no exception. I’m putting this one here to reiterate how good Freij’s vision and awareness of his teammates' positioning is. He gets a good look at the ice, sees his teammate, sees the forechecker, and gets an idea of how much time he has to bomb a pass to said teammate before setting the play in motion.

An example of Freij’s (#86 white) problem-solving ability in tight via his stickhandling and mobility. Less intelligent or skilled players would have skated right into the big mass of players gathered near the benches and turned the puck over, but Freij keeps a cool head and adapts to the situation.

Freij (#86 white), while not in the best position, fends off two attackers trying to get to the net before poking the puck free ahead of himself with the help of a teammate. He figures out where the play is going quickly and darts up ice with his head up the whole time. He very maturely stops up inside the blueline and pivots, waiting for his teammate to get into a better position before hitting him with a cross-ice pass. The way Freij reads the play, controls his speed and figures out how to get a high-danger scoring chance for his team in this sequence is sublime.

A little example of that stubbornness/fixation on the idea of shooting the puck when there is no shooting lane. How he does it is kind of impressive, but the idea is not exactly great. Freij (#86 blue) is lucky this shot got through at all and wasn’t taken the other way for a turnover.

Freij (#86 white) showing off some more good reads as well as a nose for the puck. Follows the play at the net intently and times his engagement perfectly, rewarding him with a greasy, if not a bit lucky, goal.



Like many offensive blueliners, Freij isn’t known as a punishing physical defenceman, despite his decent size. He is a stick-first defender who is very good at retrievals, opting to use his handling and skating to solve problems in tight rather than raw physical strength. He manages his gaps fairly well by probing for information and reacting according to what info he collects. The one instance where he gets a bit exposed is when he stops moving his feet a bit early and leaves too much of a gap between himself and the net, as well as between him and the oncoming attacker. It doesn’t happen very often, but it makes him look bad when it does. Good players can do a lot with a little space, so he’s got to tighten that up a bit before he gets a shot in the SHL, even.

His mobility helps him stay in front of attackers and keep his body positioned towards the play. He gets into position in front of the net, though he lacks the physical strength to be much of a net-front presence. It isn’t for lack of trying, though – Freij battles, man. Still, stick checks and positioning alone aren’t going to be enough to deter the best of the best, so he’ll have to learn to throw his weight around. Once he adds some strength to that 6’1 frame, I’m sure his defence will be at least NHL-average.

If there is one thing that sets Freij apart from other offence-first puck-moving defencemen with defence issues, it’s his awesome motor. He’s constantly probing with the stick and moving his feet. On defence, he does a great job keeping his body turned towards the play, cutting off passing lanes and shooting angles with his stick and body. His involvement in play on both sides of the puck is high, as he is itching to make something happen for his team. Any team that drafts him will love the intensity and energy he brings to every shift, day in and day out.

Motor: not just for forwards. Freij (#86 blue) isn’t content with just skating the puck up and dumping it in while his team changes, he’d rather cause headaches for the 3 opposing skaters on the ice by forechecking and disrupting possession.

Here’s Freij (#86 blue) posted up in front of the net, like he should be. He battles, but he’s not much of a physical presence – yet. Still, he does a good job of stuffing an attacker on the doorstep by sweeping the puck out of the zone.

A prime example of Freij’s (#86 white) great stick. He takes a great angle to this puck and slips it to his D partner. Unfortunately, his partner flubs the pass and turns it over. Freij wins it right back thanks to some very precise stick work and gets the breakout started for his team. No sweat!

Some gap control woes here from Freij (#86 white). Sometimes he can be a bit too reliant on his stick checking and stops moving his feet. Here, he reaches way in with the stick and gets walked in return. This is the kind of stuff that keeps you in the J20 all year despite posting stellar offensive numbers.

In this sequence, we see strong positioning and hand-eye coordination from Freij (#86 white) as he denies this entry attempt and pokes the puck ahead for his teammate to recover. With the speed of the game as it is today, entry denials are a very crucial responsibility for defencemen and situations like this can quickly turn into a counterattack. Freij can consistently make good reads on entry defence situations and take the puck the other way. However, if he can continue to do so at higher levels, it would really complement his hyper-offensive play style and raise his ceiling that much more.

As you can see here, Freij (#86 blue) IS able to use his body to pin guys against the boards and separate them from the puck. He will have to learn how to do this more consistently in order to compete against stronger, faster, more skilled players. However, it’s nice to see that the framework is there. Once he gets stronger physically, his board play and physical edge should come along nicely.

GRADE: 52.5

OPF: 55.5

A note on the 20-80 scale used above. We look at five attributes (skating, shooting, puck skills, hockey IQ and physicality) for skaters and six for goalies (athleticism/quickness, compete/temperament, vision/play reading, technique/style, rebound control and puck handling). Each individual attribute is graded along the 20-80 scales, which includes half-grades. The idea is that a projection of 50 in a given attribute meant that our observer believed that the player could get to roughly NHL average at that attribute at maturity.