Late Round Targets: European Defenceman

Hogberg

Image: Svenskalag.se

I’ve spent much of this week profiling players flying under the radar as we approach the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Players whose draft value according to NHL Central Scouting Service likely doesn’t reflect their value.

As with most players, these late-round prospects come with their share of warts — hence the low ranking. At the very least, each offers an amount of intrigue and talent that likely exceeds their draft spot.

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With our final stop, we will get back across the Atlantic Ocean and look at some European defenceman who appear to be worth a gamble.

Linus Hogberg (Ranked: NR NA Skaters)

Bio:

  • Age: 17, 1998-09-04
  • Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden 
  • Frame: 6’1″, 183 lbs.
  • Position: D
  • Handedness: L
  • Draft Year Team: Vaxjo Lakers HC (SHL) & Vaxjo Lakers HC U20
  • Accomplishments/Awards: U17 WHC Bronze Medal (14-15)

Stats:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.28.20 AM

Scouting Report:

Linus Hogberg is wearing #9 in the picture above, with highly regarded draft eligible defenceman Jacob Cederholm (#3) and a player we previously discussed, Tim Wahlgren (#22). That picture was taken after Sweden beat Finland to capture the Bronze Medal at the U17 WHC in 2014-15.

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Hogberg is very young for this draft class, being born 11 days before the cutoff — which helps his cause. As discussed many times, the difference of 6-8 months is huge in the development of 17 and 18-year-olds.

As we can see from his numbers in U20 SuperElit league, Hogberg is an offensive defenceman who isn’t afraid to jump in the rush. He finished the season with the 11th most points amongst defenceman in the SuperElit with all the players around him being ranked by NHL CSS. He also saw two regular season games and one playoff game in the SHL.

He has the size and skating abilities to be worth the risk.

When we use pGPS to look at Hogberg, he is the highest rated of this grouping with 18.9% going on to become NHL regulars. Obviously, we don’t if a team has their eye on him, but it’s entirely possible that he will be available in the 6th or 7th round, and an almost 20% success rate will be very good odds at that point.

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Hugo Danielsson (Ranked: 32nd EU Skaters)

Bio:

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  • Age: 17, 1998-08-28
  • Birthplace: Sundbyberg, Sweden
  • Frame: 6’3″, 187 lbs.
  • Position: D
  • Handedness: L
  • Draft Year Team: Skelleftea AIK & Skelleftea AIK U20
  • Accomplishments/Awards: U18 WHC Silver Medal (15/16), U18 WHC Most Penalized Player (15/16)

Stats:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.36.49 AM

Scouting Report:

While researching into these players, Hugo Danielsson’s name stuck out to me for some reason. Well, after a little digging, I remembered this moment from the U18’s in April:

That play was part of why he was the most penalized players at the U18’s with 43 minutes in 7 games.

Unlike Hogberg, Danielsson is more a defensive defensemen whose impact is felt in a team’s own zone rather than generating offence. That’s not a bad thing — players like Danielsson are needed. Measuring in at 6’3″ and 183 lbs, Danielsson is well on his way to having the size to handle the NHL rigours. He skates well for his size, uses that size effectively and has an active stick that he uses quite well. Nothing flashy or noticeable during gameplay, but makes a positive impact to the outcome of the game.

Like Hogberg, Danielsson’s birthday is close to the cut-off for this draft class. He also appeared in one game in the SHL this past season.

Firing up the trusty pGPS machine, 16.7% went onto playing 200 games in the NHL.

Kristians Rubins (Ranked: 99th EU Skaters)

Rubins

Image: sporta-klubi.lv

Bio:

  • Age: 18, 1997-12-11
  • Birthplace: Riga, Latvia 
  • Frame: 6’4″, 216 lbs.
  • Position: D
  • Handedness: L
  • Draft Year Team: VIK Vastera HK & VIK Vastera HK J20
  • Accomplishments/Awards: U20 WJC D1A Gold Medal (15/16), U20 WJC D1A Bronze Medal (14/15), U18 WJC D1A Gold Medal (13/14)

Stats:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.53.21 AM

Scouting Report:

A regular on the Latvian junior teams, Christians Rubins is an interesting option for a team looking for a big smooth skating defenceman. Currently ranked 99th amongst European Skaters, Rubins split his time amongst the J20 league and the Allsvenskan last season and showed very well posting 11 points in 21 games in the J20 league. The 0.52 PPG has him ranked 42nd in the entire SuperElit and 2nd amongst non-Swedish defenceman. That production is impressive given that he is actually regarded as a defensive defenceman.

His lower ranking likely doesn’t reflect how teams view him and he could very easily hear his name called before the draft is done.

Based on his size and production, Rubins rates well using pGPS with 18.2% going onto becoming NHL regulars. As with all these players, very good odds based on their  NHL CSS draft rankings. 

Marcus Ersson (Ranked: NR EU Skaters)

Ersson

Image: Brynas.se

Bio:

  • Age: 18, 1997-09-27
  • Birthplace: Sweden
  • Frame: 6’2″, 194 lbs.
  • Position: D
  • Handedness: L
  • Draft Year Team: Brynas IF & Brynas IF J20
  • Accomplishments/Awards: N/A

Stats:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 11.01.32 AM

Scouting Report:

Last but not least is the elder statesmen of this group, Marcus Ersson.

Born on September 27th, Ersson was only 13 days away from being a part of the 2015 draft class, given that his game is a little more well rounded and developed when compared to the other players.

Seeing action in the SHL and SuperElit this past year, Ersson showed very well. His 24 points in 34 games in the SuperElit had him tied for 14th amongst all defenceman. Although he was held pointless, he didn’t flounder in the SHL against men posting 6 PIM and -2 in 16 games. He finished the season off with 4 points in 4 playoff games.

Due to his age and size, Ersson has the lowest success rate with 15.1% of his comparables going onto being NHL regulars. However given his non-ranking by NHL CSS, that number is very encouraging reflection of Ersson.


Based on the numbers, it’s clear that there are safer bets if you take defenceman from North America. A large part of that is likely due to the fact that a portion of European defenceman choose to remain in Europe and ply their trade in their local leagues. Which there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just an added wrinkle for teams selecting these rearguards.

The four options above, and many others, present a wide variety of skill-sets that would add some depth to a team’s prospect pool.



  • SJ

    Thanks for these draft prospect reviews Ryan.

    Several of these players may be worth a gamble, but, as you stated they may elect to stay and play in local leagues, therefore not worth using a draft pick.

    Also I am unclear if a player from Europe has same rules as NA players where if not signed after 2 years they can re-enter the draft. Could you clarify for me please.

    • Ryan Biech

      If drafted from Europe, and the player stays there, teams have 4 years to sign them.

      An example is Anton Karlsson, drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2014 – they still have two more years of his rights.