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Hallander good fit with Penguins

Forward prospect brings physicality, models game after Hornqvist

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Filip Hallander has modeled his game after Patric Hornqvist, a fellow Sweden-born forward who has won the Stanley Cup twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Eventually, he would like to follow a similar path.

The Penguins selected Hallander (5-foot-11, 176 pounds) in the second round (No. 58) of the 2018 NHL Draft, hoping the forward could replicate Hornqvist's physicality. 

"Being able to be here now and be in the same organization as him is very nice," Hallander said. "I get to watch him up close and everything. I like him a lot, but the other guys (in Sweden), they watch guys like [Ottawa Senators defenseman] Erik Karlsson and [Washington Capitals forward] Nicklas Backstrom, more flashy guys. I think [Hornqvist is] underrated."

Playing with Timra of Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division, Hallander had 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 40 games last season as a 17-year-old. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Penguins on Sunday and will play again this season for Timra, which earned promotion to the Swedish Hockey League.

"We watched Filip a lot during the first half (of 2017-18)," Penguins director of amateur scouting Patrik Allvin said. "Unfortunately he had a little bit of a knee problem in the second half. I think that's why he might have slid a little bit (in the 2018 draft). He's just a solid, two-way player. He has those character traits like Patric Hornqvist. He goes to the hard areas and produces.

"It was a great year for him, being on a pro team and moving up to the top league in Sweden. We felt that he fits what we're looking for in a player."

As is the case with Pittsburgh's other 2018 second-round pick, defenseman Calen Addison (No. 53), there is no timetable for Hallander's NHL debut. So before Hallander turns his attention to playing in the NHL, he said he's going to enjoy simply being part of the Penguins organization.

"It's been very exciting," he said. "Being drafted by Pittsburgh and going over here has been very fun. Just get to know everybody and see how the organization works. I have a good feeling. ... It's very professional, of course. It's very fun and everybody is very fun. It's very good. 

"It's unbelievable of course. To see the locker rooms and everything, it's so big. I'm speechless."

When asked if there are any specific areas of his game he would like to refine, Hallander said he would leave that up to Penguins coaches and trainers.  

"I just want the guys to know (what he can improve), so I can get some tips on what I can work on and stuff like that," Hallander said. "So hopefully I can get some tips from the coaches."

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