2021-22 Team: Linköping HC J20 (J20 Nationell)
DOB: May 7, 2004
Place of Birth: Nyköping, Sweden
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 176 pounds
Position: Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 Draft Eligible
Fabian Wagner is the type of player that casts a spotlight on why scouting is an underappreciated labor. With 38 points in 43 games this season playing in Sweden, he was one of the most exciting players to watch at the J20 level. He possesses good hands which lead to good stickwork, and he’s not afraid to put both to work on any given shift. He has all the traits of a quality playmaker: he has good play recognition in the offensive zone, he can make plays in transition, and he has the ability to create time and space for himself and his teammates.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
If Wagner finds himself with a scoring opportunity, he can let it rip with good accuracy and slightly above-average velocity. He’s no sniper, but he can finish a play if he’s in the right spot. At the U18 tournament, he recorded a single goal – his only point of the tournament – showcasing the fact that he has some finishing ability. Make no mistake though, his bread and butter is making plays for his teammates.
So then why isn’t Wagner ranked higher across the majority of rankings for the 2022 draft class? Part of it is his defensive play. He’s no Mark Stone on the wing, and you’ll catch him puck-watching in his own zone from time to time. This is the area of his game that could be the key to unlocking his NHL potential; if he can turn himself into a two-way winger without sacrificing too much of his offensive creativity, he could become a really useful and versatile forward. Aside from his defensive play, there is also the fact that his quality of competition simply isn’t at the same level as others ranked ahead of him. He stands out at the J20 level, but he was mostly invisible while playing against men in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) this season (a sample of just eight games, but still.) His stock as a prospect will take a huge leap forward if he can prove he is capable of producing against the best the Swedish league has to offer.
Wagner’s offensive game contains a lot of things that are projectable at the NHL level. Offensive IQ is hard to teach, and he has it; knowing where to put the puck in the offensive zone is something that carries value, and if he can continue to do that against higher competition, he could very well see some power play time at the NHL level. Managing risk in his game will be a key focus, though. He makes plays that he can get away with at the J20 level that he wouldn’t be able to in the SHL, and whether or not he can make those adjustments without trying to force things will determine whether or not he truly projects as a top-nine forward.
Other THW Profiles
Fabian Wagner – NHL Draft Projection
Wagner is the type of player that could go pretty much anywhere outside of the first round. There might be a team out there that loves his offensive game and would be willing to take him in the second round, likely with a late pick. Other teams might not consider him until the fourth round or later. Realistically, he probably won’t hear his name called until the third round or later.
“Puck patience and the quick hands make Wagner really difficult to face when he speeds through the neutral zone, and he often enters the offensive zone by controlling the puck to look for passing opportunities.” – Fredrik Haak, FC Hockey
“Wagner is a developing offensive talent whose skill can be used in practical ways to produce positive results. From the last time I watched him, I felt his puck possession game has improved greatly. Wagner can position well to keep the puck along the boards, and use his skating and hands to keep the puck from opponents in open ice.” – Joshua Frojelin, FC Hockey
- Stick work with and without the puck
- Play recognition
- Strength of competition
- Dynamic/explosiveness in his offensive game
Wagner has two paths to becoming an NHL forward. If his offense translates as higher levels, he could become a middle six playmaker on the right wing that sees time on his team’s second power play unit. If he rounds out his game, he could become a bottom six forward with some offensive upside. While he’s listed as a right winger, he can also play center – though he probably isn’t dynamic enough to play down the middle in the NHL.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 6.5/10, Defense – 4/10
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.