Today, I'll continue with my profiles of the players who joined the Vancouver Canucks' prospect pool at the 2019 NHL draft.
Click here if you missed the Vasily Podkolzin profile that kicked things off.
Today: 40th overall pick Nils Hoglander.
Let's start with some good news. After skipping the World Junior Summer Showcase in Michigan a couple of weeks ago, Hoglander is on the roster for Team Sweden for next week's U20 Four Nations Tournament.
#Canucks prospects Nils Hoglander & Arvid Costmar have been named to the Sweden U20 national team.
Once again, World Juniors coach Tomas Monten will be behind the bench. Click here for a reminder of Sweden's Summer Showcase roster.
There are lots of fresh faces in this group: one new goalie, four different defensemen and a completely different forward group, including Hoglander and the Canucks' final pick from June, 215th-overall selection Arvid Costmar.
As far as I can tell, Russia's roster has not yet been announced—but I'd imagine Vasily Podkolzin will also be taking part in this tournament.
Anyway. Back to Hoglander, who was widely considered to be good value for the Canucks at the 40th pick in June.
Listed at just 5'8" on HockeyDB, Hoglander may have had a bit of a growth spurt leading up to the draft. The left winger turned 18 last December, and is listed at 5'10" and 188 pounds on the NHL Central Scouting final rankings. He slotted in at No. 11 among European skaters, down one spot from his midterm ranking of 10.
Looks like the rounding worked in his favour. According to The Hockey Writers, he measured 5'9.5" and 188 pounds at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo.
Elite Prospects says "Höglander stands out with his exceptional puck skills and hands. Really good stickhandler and he loves getting creative with the puck, scoring spectacular goals at times. Decent skater who accelerates well and works very hard along the boards in the offensive zone."
Goran Stubb, the NHL's director of European scouting, had Hoglander on his radar last winter for Sweden's 2019 World Junior Team, citing his excellent skating and good offensive instincts. Hoglander did not end up making the team—and Sweden went home without a medal after a 2-0 shutout loss to Switzerland in the quarterfinal.
Closer to the draft, Mike Morreale of NHL.com ranked Hoglander fourth among available left wings in the draft, calling him a "fantastic skater with a good first step and plenty of energy."
On that list, Hoglander ranked behind Matt Boldy, selected 12th out of the U.S. NTDP, Egor Afanasyev, selected 45th out of the USHL, and Nicholas Robertson, selected 53rd out of Peterborough. But Morreale's ranking certainly didn't align with the draft order, with some lower-ranked players taken above Hoglander. For example: fifth-ranked Brayden Tracey was selected 29th by Anaheim, seventh-ranked Jakob Pelletier went at No. 26 to Calgary and ninth-ranked Nolan Foote was chosen 27th by Tampa Bay.
Bob McKenzie had Hoglander at 35 on his final 2019 draft list, although he mentioned that players from 25 to 50 on his list were pretty-much interchangeable in terms of the support that they'd received from NHL scouts going into the draft.
Hoglander hasn't had a strong offensive record in key international tournaments. He won gold with Sweden at the U17 championship in 2017 and bronze at U18s in 2018, but didn't have a point in either tournament.
In club play, though, he advanced quickly, playing 34 games in Sweden's second-tier men's league, Allsvenskan, in 2017-18, then jumping to Rogle of the top-level SHL last season.
Hoglander had seven goals and 14 points in 50 games with Rogle. His claim to fame leading into the draft was this nifty play, which was named the Swedish Hockey League's goal of the year:
Hoglander was a beast at the fitness tests at the Combine in Buffalo, with top-25 finishes in a wide range of tests in the aerobic, anaerobic, agility and strength categories—and finishing in a first-place tie with 16 pull-ups, alongside Cole Caufield and two others.
All told, Hoglander came sixth in Aerobic Fitness - Test Duration, 11th in VO2Max, eighth in Pro Agility (left) and fifth in Pro Agility (right), fifth in Anaerobic peak power output, 15th in vertical jump, 23rd in squat jump, second in bench press, 10th in left hand grip, 24th in right hand grip, first in pull-ups, and 16th in standing long jump. That's quite the tool box!
With first-rounder Podkolzin not at the Canucks' development camp right after the draft, the spotlight shone brighter on Hoglander—and he impressed.
"He has a deceptive release and his hands are really good," Canucks goalie Michael DiPietro told Kevin Woodley of NHL.com. "It's impressive. He made a breakaway move against me where he put the puck behind his back. I haven't seen that too much, and he did it so fluidly too."
"It's the finish, but it's also the power and explosiveness out of corners. He almost plays a reverse physical game," said Canucks' player development director Ryan Johnson. "If a defender comes at him, he's not afraid to pop him and explode to the net, which catches people off guard because visually he doesn't overwhelm you. The power in his legs, and the skill set he has, there's something special there."
Hoglander returns to Rogle this season with instructions to improve his edgework in order to round out his game. He's hoping for a chance to crack the Canucks' lineup a year from now—following the same timeline as some of the Canucks' best-ever draft picks out of Sweden, the Sedin twins and Elias Pettersson.
After Pettersson's outstanding rookie season last year, I think it's safe to say that fans in this market have an affinity for young Swedes with juggling-on-unicycle skills. Looks like Hoglander's wheeling down a very promising path!