The Vancouver Canucks sat in a very good position with the 40th overall pick in the 2019 NHL entry draft. With many projected first-round picks available, the organization selected who they believed to be the best of the bunch in Nils Höglander and Canucks fans have quickly fallen in love with the young Swedish prospect.
Nils Höglander is a dynamic left-winger who makes up for what he lacks in size with his marvellous stick handling and quick release wrist shot. Höglander was the second Swedish forward selected in the 2019 draft but he played in 50 SHL games in his draft year when the first Swedish forward selected (Simon Holmström) only participated in one SHL game. Höglander had a very productive rookie SHL season comparatively to others that played in their 17-year-old season which we will get to later in this article.
Info provided by EliteProspects.com
In keeping with past lists, we’re considering a prospect to be any player who is 25 years of age or younger and who has played less than 25 regular-season games at the NHL level. This is a slightly modified and simplified version of the qualifications for the Calder Trophy.
As of the 2018/19 season, both Elias Pettersson and Adam Gaudette have graduated from prospect status.
By The Numbers
Statistics provided by Eliteprospects.com
As per usual, Harman Dayal has been up to some great work lately and he recently provided us with this list of SHL players who have had some success at the SHL level in their draft year.
List provided by Harman Dayal of The Athletic
Höglander’s early start in the SHL is just another thing to be excited about as the prospect is now primed to have a larger role with his SHL team, Rögle BK and has been paired up with NHL prospect and 2018 first round pick Dominik Bokk.
— Rögle BK (@rogle_bk) September 14, 2019
Getting top-six minutes and powerplay time will be one of the major contributing factors to Höglander having a productive season overseas. He has already earned that spot due to the impact he’s made since joining them as a 17-year-old and now being one year older growing as a player mentally and physically.
Höglander has begun his SHL season on the right foot as he scored just over 12 minutes into his first regular season game.
This is @Canucks prospect Nils Höglander in his first SHL game of the season. He scored a nice tip-in goal in the first. Höglander battles really hard along the boards and doesn't let his size factor into the areas of the ice he travels in. (Video quality is not great- sorry.) pic.twitter.com/xHUesgDH2z
— Daniel Gee (@DanielGScouting) September 14, 2019
Nils will likely be one of the top contributors on the Swedish World Junior team this year and with some of the talent on that U20 team, they will likely be one of the most entertaining team’s we have seen in recent memory of the tournament. Sweden is set to have some high-end talents in players like Samuel Fagemo, Jacob Olofsson, Lucas Raymond, David Gustafsson, Alexander Holtz, Victor Soderstrom, Adam Boqvist to name a few.
Höglander’s early success in the SHL at a young age and continued growth into this season are the main reasons that he is ranked #4 on our CanucksArmy rankings. Following him throughout the SHL season will definitely result in plenty of video content on the young star as he makes his way through his sophomore professional season.
The points that Höglander put up in his 17-year-old season in the SHL have resulted in being given a 19% chance of becoming a top six player according to Jeremy Davis’ breakdown based on his XLS% tier chart.
There are a few of Nils Höglander highlights that showcase his incredible stick handling talent. He seems to have the puck on a string at times and even against men in the SHL he is able to control the puck on the boards and be able to make a pass or drive to the net in this professional league.
He had the confidence to pull this off in the SHL at 17 years old…
— Chris Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) July 14, 2019
Nils has hands but he is also strong off the puck. It looks like he has stepped up the intensity when forechecking from the preseason games I watched so far. His spot on the powerplay isn’t necessarily set in stone yet as he has been playing both sides on the half wall throughout the preseason and there just haven’t been enough regular-season games to say which side he will be used in more often this year.
Canucks fans should be excited to follow this kid as he is going to be a highlight machine for seasons to come. Having two electric wingers in Höglander and Podkolzin who have very different skill sets primed to joined this team in the next couple of years really gives the organization some winger depth in their prospect pool.
You need to draft the best available player when you are selecting in the top 50 and the Canucks did just that at the 2019 NHL draft. Höglander‘s high-end offensive skill combined with Podkolzin’s potential to be a physically dominating force gives the Canucks a nice Yin and Yang set up for their future top-six if these prospects continue to prosper overseas.
As for most high profile prospects, all eyes will be on Höglander this season to continue his success in 2019-20. His offensive numbers should take a significant jump from having 7 goals and 7 assist in 50 games to hopefully close to 20 goals and 20 assists. The ultimate dream would be that Nils Höglander is able to surpass 20 goals or assists, if that’s the case, he will be even higher on next year’s list.