Nils Hoglander is the type of player that doesn’t let his small stature prevent him from doing the things he wants to do on the ice. Instead, he uses his elusiveness, hockey IQ, tenacity, and skating abilities to be a little tornado on the ice.
He was one of the few first-time draft-eligible players to spend the entire year in the SHL and held his own there to boot, potting seven goals and seven assists in 50 games.
There is a lot to like about the little winger and we’ll break it down here on NextGen Hockey.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / December 20, 2000
- Birthplace: Bocktrask, SWE
- Frame: 5-foot-9 / 185 lbs
- Position: Left Wing
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Rogle BK (SHL) / Rogle BK J20 (SuperElit)
- U16 SM Most Goals (10)
- U16 SM Silver Medal
- Allsvenskan Most Points by U18 Junior (8)
- J20 SM Bronze Medal
- U17 WHC Gold Medal
- U18 WJC Bronze Medal
- SHL Goal of the Year
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
Nils Hoglander is a fun player; there really isn’t a better way than that to describe his play in the offensive zone.
His elusiveness with and without the puck forces his opponents to be constantly moving while not over-committing engagement with him. If they try to force a play on him, he has a habit of slipping out of their grasp and moving into open space. This aspect of his game is quite helpful in allowing him to overcome the noticeable size difference.
Hoglander does a fantastic job avoiding putting himself in situations where he’ll sustain heavy contact. That isn’t to say that he shies away from getting dirty, but has more to do with him strategically giving himself the best opportunity to maintain possession of the puck. He’ll roll off hits, or adjust his angle right before engagement and then work his butt off to get the puck. Despite being on the shorter side, Hoglander is noticeably sturdy on his feet and can be hard to push off the puck.
His elusivity is one example of how smart a player Hoglander can be, but it isn’t the only one. The left winger appears to always be looking for space and often finds it before anyone else realizes it’s there.
In the offensive zone, Hoglander is a creative and bold player who will try dekes and moves that at first appear at a higher level than he can execute, but he somehow makes them work. Take a look at the play below as an example:
The move is a bit sloppy, but incredibly bold given his age and the level of competition, but he gets a hard shot off. Here’s another angle of the play:
In a sense, he may need to work on his puckhandling at speed to get it to the same level as his hockey IQ, but at the very least he has the boldness to attempt some special moves. When he does put it all together, it’s pretty fantastic:
Hoglander is a fantastic shooter that relies on his quick release to beat goalies before they can get properly set. He is effective at adjusting his shooting lane quickly to aid that quick release. He isn’t the best passer but isn’t devoid of playmaking talent either. He can see the play quite well which allows him to hit his teammates in open space, but is far from dynamic in terms of creating plays for others.
Like many players of his height, he doesn’t have a high-end top speed but more relies on his two-step quickness and fast strides to get separation from his opponents. He is particularly strong on his edges and quickly shifts his weight from either foot to change lanes with ease.
Part of the reason why the left-winger was able to spend his entire draft season in the SHL is that he is an effective two-way player. Unlike many wingers of the same age, Hoglander is particularly responsible in his own zone. He is good at maintaining a good reach from his opponent while having the ability to quickly react and keep close if they decide to attack a different space.
He uses his worker bee efforts in his own zone just as much as he does in the offensive zone. Battling to take the puck along the boards before efficiently getting it out of the zone. He is very effective in finding his centreman in the middle of the ice, rolling off the pinching defender, and then joining the rush in transition.
There is the obvious concern about his size but Hoglander is a bold, smart, and effective player that it’s something that should be overlooked.
Hoglander primarily played a bottom six role for Rogle BK this season, averaging 12:36 of ice time during the regular season.
Given his status as a NHL draft eligible player, there are some parts of his underlying numbers that may be of some concern. In particular, he was a bit of a drag on his most common linemates in terms of goal share with-or-without-you numbers.
Despite mentioning that he has a strong two-way game, he did get overmatched at times against some higher QoC that provided those results. With that being said, this is fairly common with teenage players in the SHL and shouldn’t be something that affects his stock too much.
Looking at his statistical profile for this past season, pGPS produces the following results:
Basically, despite not controlling the goal share (and likely shot share as well) while on the ice, it’s still a very encouraging sign that he was able to hang in the SHL for the entire season.
Hoglander led all Swedish first time draft eligible players in SEAL adjusted scoring, showing that he was able to more than just hang around at that level.
Lucas Elvenes has signed with the Vegas Golden Knights for next season; if Elvenes makes the leap across the pond next year, an opportunity will arise for Hoglander to receive more responsibility. There are reasons to believe that Hoglander will be put in a position to flourish in 2019-20.
Despite being short, he has the strength and elusiveness to be effective in the offensive zone and it should be able to translate over the North America. His defensive zone play is good from an eye-test stand point even if the goal numbers don’t exactly back that up.
It will be really interesting to see where Hoglander goes at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He could very well be a player taken with one of the last picks on the first day or is quickly snatched up on the second day. Either way, that range of 25-40 is exactly where he should go.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and SHL.se and swe.hockey.se.
Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Nils Hoglander’s page here (paywall). Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
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