2020-21 Team: Frolunda HC J20 (No. 16), Halmstad Hammers HC (No. 4)
Date of Birth: Oct. 24, 2002
Place of Birth: N/A
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: Not Ranked
- Draft Prospects Hockey: #98
- Smaht Scouting: #82
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): #79
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): #72
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): #74
In a year where many of the 2021 Draft’s top prospects lost significant playing time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hugo Gabrielsson was one of the few exceptions. He played in 41 games between the J-20 Nationell — Sweden’s junior league — and the HockeyEttan, which is Sweden’s equivalent of the ECHL. He combined for 20 points across the two leagues, with 13 of them coming for Frolunda J20 in the J20 Nationell.
Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Gabrielsson really shined with Frolunda’s junior team, which at one point featured other top 2021 draft prospects Fabian Lysell and Simon Edvinsson. There, he saw some time paired alongside Edvinsson and thrived offensively. Gabrielsson is not afraid to jump in on the rush and create offense for his team. At times, he even gets in on the forecheck and generates offense from behind the net, not something you’ll always see from a defenseman.
While Gabrielsson’s strength is his offensive game, one area where he specifically excels is in transition. He’s not the fastest skater, but he’s smooth and is quite effective rushing the puck up the ice. This bears out in some of Will Scouch’s data that he tracked of Gabrielsson over three games with Frolunda J20, as he maintained puck possession on just under 77 percent of offensive zone entries.
Not only does Gabrielsson enter the offensive zone with puck possession, but he also generates shot attempts once in the offensive zone. If there’s an opportunity to shoot the puck, he’s going to take that chance. While he thrives offensively, he needs to improve his defensive game, but that should come over time as he adds strength to his 172-pound frame. And while he’s not a bad skater, he would benefit from getting faster. Those reasons are likely what’s pushed him down some draft rankings, but there’s no denying there’s some intriguing offensive upside with him.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Hugo Gabrielsson — NHL Draft Projection
Most draft rankings have Gabrielsson in the top 100, with a general consensus having him between 70 and 100. He’ll likely go somewhere in the third round, but the fact that he’s played in 41 games might appeal to teams who are uneasy about taking players with limited data.
“I’ve found that Hugo Gabrielsson does a really good job covering for Simon Edvinsson’s tendency to… panic. While not extremely active across bluelines in the limited 5v5 time he got in Game 1, he drove good shooting metrics, landed a high danger attempt connected on 11 of 13 passes, including a dangerous pass attempt leading to one of his two shot assists in the <9 5v5 minutes he played. I think his data will improve the more I track, but he’s one to watch regardless.” – Will Scouch, Scouching
“Also rising quickly is Swedish defenceman Hugo Gabrielsson (59th). He’s not the most notable draft-eligible player skating with Frolunda (that being Simon Edvinsson), but he’s gaining ground by the day as a possible late second-round pick. His mobility and acceleration stood out the most to me in the clips I’ve seen and judging from Josh Bell’s comments in a recent scouting report, he’s also very good at adapting his style to suit the player he’s partnered with. He’s basically a transformer, capable of playing any type of game when needed.” – Matthew Zator, The Hockey Writers
“Largely overshadowed by star defender Simon Edvinsson, Gabrielsson hasn’t earned the attention that he deserves yet. What stood out the most in this game was Gabrielsson’s adaptability. He changed partners often, and it was evident that he knew what role to play with each player. When playing with Edvinsson, he jumped up into the play more, looking to make an impact in the offensive zone…” – Josh Bell, FC Hockey
- Offensive IQ
- Transition game
- Shot creation
Under Construction — Improvements to Make
- Defensive game
- Quickness/speed in skating
It’s unlikely Gabrielsson becomes a top-flight blueliner in the NHL. But the tools are there for him to turn into a no. 4 or 5 defenseman who excels offensively, in transition and can quarterback a power play.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8/10, Defense – 5/10
Gabrielsson had the most points (25) for a defenseman in the J18 Elit in 2019-20. He also had the most points for a defenseman in the J18 Allsvenskan in the same season.