Nils Hoglander still has a long way to go to make the NHL, but his potential makes scouts and coaches stand up.Just like judging a baseball player’s talent on whether the ball makes a popping sound when connecting for a hit, judging a prospect on how they perform in drills during a development camp probably isn’t all that insightful.Still, it was notable how much Nils Hoglander stood out this week at the Vancouver Canucks’ prospects camp. His powerful skating and outstanding hands had the fans in attendance at UBC — as well as the coaches and players on the ice — talking.The NHL club’s director of amateur scouting, Judd Brackett, gushed last weekend about the young Swede, who was picked 40th overall during the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, highlighting his shot and creativity with the puck.On top of his quick, powerful shot and creative puck skills, he’s built a reputation for playing with a physical edge despite his shorter stature — he’s listed at 5-9. All were evident over the three days of on-ice sessions at the University of B.C.Canucks’ senior director of player development Ryan Johnson called Hoglander “an explosive player” top to bottom.“He doesn’t have any holes in his game,” Johnson said. The obvious strengths he sees in Hoglander’s game are tantalizing, he added.“If we can up all those … he’s going to be dangerous. You see the skill set but in a lot of the compete drills, the battle drills, he’s a physical player. By no means is he just a one-dimensional player. He uses his body and his power to create time and space.”
Nils Hoglander is picked in the second round by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22.
Jason Payne /
Goalie prospect Mike DiPietro said facing him was quite the challenge.“He’s a guy that’s very shifty. I think he’s got a great, deceptive release,” DiPietro said.Hoglander pulled off a move on a breakaway against DiPietro that the netminder said stood out, as Hoglander shifted the puck behind his own back before releasing a shot.“That was pretty cool. Haven’t seen that too much,” he said.Though he’s still a teenager — he turns 19 in December — Hoglander already has two years of professional hockey under his belt. He played 2018-19 for Rögle of the Swedish Hockey League. He’s going to play at least one more season in the SHL. The season before that, he spent more than half the season with AIK of the second-tier Allsvenskan.His shot has long been a superb skill for him.“I work on it every day. I know I have a good shot but I know I must use it more,” he said Thursday after the final on-ice session.Like most players his age, he said he needed to work on everything, but when pressed he acknowledged his skating agility, his edge work, needed improving.“Turns,” he said. “I can be much better at that.”Edge work is the modern term, but Hoglander’s explanation is perhaps more to the point.“He wants to continue to evolve his game down low,” Johnson said. “I think he realizes he’s a very good north-south player, but talking to him today he wants to get better at that low game, the east-west game using his legs and his power to buy him time and space to create low cutbacks and get in to the net.” … He knows now that he has the resources and the people who can help him … He’s a player that wants it. We don’t have to ask too much of him from the intensity side of things.”Hoglander, who despite his in-progress English still oozes self-confidence in his body language, said it was neat he was the latest Swede to find an NHL landing spot in Vancouver.As a 10-year-old, he said he met the Sedins, a thrill at the time. And of course, he’s well versed in the Canucks’ current Swedish star.He spent one year playing for one of Timra’s youth teams; Elias Pettersson is two years older than him and was playing for the hockey club’s junior team.“Of course I watched him a little bit, but I try to do my own thing,” he said. “Do what I know I’m good at, like skating and creativity.”email@example.com/risingactionCLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email firstname.lastname@example.org″>email@example.com