2021-22 Team: Djurgårdens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)
Date of Birth: March 11, 2004
Place of Birth: Nykvarn, Sweden
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 163 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 25th (amongst EU skaters)
- FC Hockey: 21st
- Recruit Scouting: 13th
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 30th
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 26th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 17th
- Smaht Scouting: 13th
- Bob McKenzie’s (TSN) Rankings: 51st
- Dobber Prospects Mid-Season Rankings: 18th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 19th
- Craig Button’s (TSN) March Rankings: 73rd
Quickly becoming one of the Swedish hockey hotbeds for the 2022 Draft, the J20 Nationell’s Djurgårdens IF boasts three of the top Swedish prospects in this year’s first-round class. Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Liam Öhgren and the subject of this THW prospect profile, Noah Östlund. They usually form a lethal line for Djurgårdens as all of them rank in the top 10 in scoring with Öhgren leading the way with an insane 33 goals and 58 points in 30 games. As the centerman, Östlund isn’t as much the goalscorer as he only has nine goals to go with 33 assists. He’s basically the Henrik Sedin or Joe Thornton of his line. Lekkerimäki would be right there with his linemates if not for an injury that has sidelined him since March 8, as he had 20 goals and 35 points in 26 games before that game.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
One of Östlund’s many strengths is his speed and pace of play as he constantly burns opposing defences with it. He also possesses quick hands and a strong work ethic, which is no surprise as most Swedes have that particular latter quality. He also has the vision and playmaking skills to set up his teammates for goals as he currently has the second-most primary assists (16) among draft-eligible players in the J20 Nationell trailing only Alexander Suzdalev who has 19. If you want some evidence of his slick puckhandling and stick skills, just take a look at this clip from warm-up before a game back in February. He shows amazing hand-eye coordination as he juggles the puck with his teammates looking on.
Like most great playmakers, Ostlund knows how to create space for himself and chances for his teammates as well. He just seems to know where everyone is on the ice despite the limitation of having only two eyes. If you didn’t know any better, you would think he had them all over his body with the passes he makes sometimes. Coupled with his insane hockey IQ and play anticipation, he makes anyone who plays with him an instant threat. All they have to do is get open with their stick on the ice and he will find them. Without the puck, he’s smart too as he supports his linemates defensively and gives them a passing option to get them out of trouble.
Despite Ostlund’s wealth of hockey IQ, vision and playmaking skills, scouts have become concerned about his lack of high-end offensive skills when it comes to scoring goals (again like Henrik Sedin). To become a true first-line center that is feared not only for his passing but also for his goalscoring, he has to start executing plays himself more consistently. If he starts doing that, look out, because he will be a threat to hit 100 points a few times in his NHL career.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Noah Östlund – NHL Draft Projection
Östlund is a bit of a polarizing prospect in the prospect world as he’s ranked all over the place from as low as 73rd by TSN’s Craig Button to 13th by Smaht and Recruit Scouting. Most likely because of his goalscoring limitations, if he ends up being selected in the middle of the third round like Button suggests, that team will be getting a steal. Even if he doesn’t develop into a goalscorer, pair him with a legit twine tickler and he is still an 80-point player. With his playmaking and vision, I anticipate a few 60-70 assist seasons, especially if he gets a 30-goal scorer on his wing. As such, I really think a team will take a chance on him in the 15-20 range. If not, he’s definitely not still around when the second day of the draft rolls around.
“Östlund is one of the smartest forwards in the draft class. While other players display their hockey sense in their ability to manipulate the opposition, in their playmaking, and scoring instinct, Östlund’s intelligence for the game is more subtle. He is a supportive force on the ice, the link between all of his teammates’ plays and often the reason why the offence of the under-20 squad of Djugårdens flows.” – David St-Louis, Elite Prospects QMJHL Scout (from ‘Scouting Notebook: Evaluating the Djurgårdens trio’, EP Rinkside, 2/4/22)
“Östlund came into the year as the player to watch with his combination of creativity and work ethic. His intuitive play as an off-puck attacker is among the best in the class. He reads the defensive structure and sets himself up for success by finding the pockets of space. He plays a complete 200-foot game and likely won’t be a long-term development thanks to his mature processing of the game.” – Tony Ferrari, The Hockey News
“The first thing that stands out about Östlund is his high-end skating ability and the pace at which he plays the game. He is a technically sound skater who can carve up the opposition as a puck carrier, weaving through checks in transition and dicing in and out of traffic off the cycle. Östlund has fantastic hands and is able to quickly string pass receptions into slick dekes which he layers on top of his agile skating stride, giving him an explosive element to his game.” – Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
“Ostlund has the hockey sense and the playmaking abilities that many just dream about. He reads the game at a very high level and seems to put himself in the right spots all the time both with and without the puck. He has a high intensity on the ice and moves the puck fast. When Ostlund gets the puck, he never seems to get stressed even though he gets forechecked a lot. He creates time and space for himself in an almost unique way and does find passes that hits the stick on his teammates…Besides his offensive skills, Ostlund does not cheat in his defense. He works really hard both ways and you often see him use his pace from the slot where he circulates to maintain speed back home. What he needs to improve is his strength, which will most likely come in a few years.” – Fredrik Haak, FC Hockey (from ‘Noah Ostlund Player Report – Orebro J20 vs. Djurgarden J20’, FC Hockey, 1/20/22)
- Puck handling
- Hockey IQ
- Work ethic
- Plays with pace
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Lacks high-end scoring skill
- Needs to get stronger
At the very least, Östlund will become a high-volume assist man as a second-line center who can sub-in on the top line in a pinch. He will also be a threat on the power play because of his vision and playmaking skills. If he can become more of a scoring threat, the ceiling of a productive top-line center is not out of the question. Chemistry with a couple of goalscorers like he has in Djurgårdens with Lekkerimaki and Ohgren, and the century mark could be in sight. Just look at what Henrik did with his brother Daniel and underrated workhorse Alex Burrows during the 2010s with the Canucks. Anything is possible when you have an elite playmaking toolbox at your disposal.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence – 7/10
Östlund played for Team Sweden at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he came away with a bronze medal. He also won a bronze medal at the U18 World Junior Championship in 2021.
Noah Östlund Statistics
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.