2018-19 Team: Rögle BK
Date of Birth: December 20, 2000
Place of Birth: Bockträsk, Sweden
Ht: 5-foot-9 Wt: 185 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 11th (Among EU skaters)
- Future Considerations: 26th
- HockeyProspect.com: 25th
- DobberProspects: 23rd
- The Hockey Writers: 25th
- TSN’s Craig’s List: 67th
When you first look at Nils Höglander’s numbers, they don’t seem to stand out. When you look at his size, you may question if he can play at the NHL level. But when you really look, his numbers, in fact, are impressive. And Johnny Gaudreau and Mitch Marner will tell you that size isn’t everything.
Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2019 Edition
Höglander is coming off of a 50-game season with Rögle BK of the SHL, which is the highest level of hockey in Sweden. He put up seven goals and 14 points. He did that as an 18-year-old rookie, on a bad team (20-21-7, finishing 9th of 14 teams) while having his minutes limited. It was a great first year for the young player.
The Swedish winger has some of the best hands in the draft and combines it with great skating and speed that makes it difficult to defend against him. That set of skills also allows him many opportunities on the breakaway, where he can pull off a highlight reel play, including the 2018-19 goal of the year in the SHL.
What pushes Höglander into another level is his quick thinking on top of his other skills. He’s able to play the game at a very fast pace, and make the right plays while doing so. He even holds his own in the defensive end.
At 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, one of the most surprising attributes of his game is the grit he brings. He’s been described as “fearless” and has drawn comparisons to Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher but with the ability to score more. There’s a lot to like about his game as a hard-working, gritty goal-scorer.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Nils Höglander – NHL Draft Projection
Höglander is projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. If it weren’t for his small size, he’d likely be a higher option. Expect him to go in the mid-20s, where in a couple of years we could be talking about Höglander as the steal of the draft.
“A skilled winger with good acceleration and a better release. Plays bigger than his size and has looked capable in the SHL this season. Quick cuts and quicker hands allow him to dart in and out of traffic.” – Cam Robinson, DobberProspects
“Höglander has the best hands in the draft. When he has the puck on his stick, he’s trying to make a skilled play. His puck handling is lightning quick and he often leaves defenders in a knot with how he dangles while in stride. He’s not a selfish dangler, though, as he’s a great passer and looks for his teammates constantly. He’s not a typical playmaker you see run a power play and hang around the half-wall hitting seam passes. He’s always in motion and makes creative feeds. Höglander isn’t the biggest forward at 5-foot-9, but he plays with a lot of energy and engages well. He’s got a bit of an edge to his game, too. He’s a decent skater, more elusive than a burner with very good edges, but he can turn a corner when he needs to.” Corey Pronman, The Athletic (From: “Pronman’s 2019 NHL Draft Board: Top 107 prospects” – The Athletic – May 21, 2019).
“Höglander is a very good skater with first-step quickness who can accelerate to top speed in an instant. He controls his pace extremely well, and his quick feet and agility allow him to make sharp moves through the neutral zone. Höglander is a capable stick-handler who weaves his way through a dense network of sticks and bodies, and his cutbacks lure opponents away from coverage before he exploits openings with hard, crisp passes on the tape. He can play the game either inside or out, and he’s a low-maintenance shooter thanks to a quick release and his ability to get shots on net while blanketed. Hoglander has excellent vision, and his decisions with the puck seem to always make sense.” Steve Kournianous, The Draft Analyst
- Puck handling
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Currently, there’s no reason to think that Höglander can’t become a top-six forward at the NHL level. He’s got the determination, the skill and the work ethic to do so, despite his small frame. The NHL has been getting smaller, and Höglander might just be the next player to prove doubters wrong.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defence – 7/10
Höglander has quite the resume to his name already. In his first season in the Allsvenskan, the winger had the most points by a U18 Junior. That season, he also won a J20 SM bronze medal and a World U17 Hockey Championship gold medal. In 2017-18, he was on the International stage again, winning a bronze at the U18s.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.