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Hoglander impresses Canucks in development camp

Forward looks to follow in footsteps of Sedins, Pettersson, make quick transition to NHL

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Nils Hoglander turned some heads during the 2019 NHL Draft with a social media video that showed him warming up by juggling while riding a unicycle, but that was nothing compared to the skill the 18-year-old forward put on display at Vancouver Canucks development camp in June.

Hoglander, who was drafted by the Canucks in the second round (No. 40), had teammates buzzing with some of the moves he showcased.

"Many skated over and said, 'Wow, this guy is fun to watch," Vancouver senior director of player development Ryan Johnson said during development camp. "I can say it, but when the other players are talking about it, that's the ultimate compliment."

Tweet from @KaneVanGate38: Nils H��glander���s warmup routine might make you question your own athletic ability... #NHLDraft [🎥 @RSGHockey]

Hoglander (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) played last season in his native Sweden with Rogle BK and had 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 50 games, including the Swedish Hockey League Goal of the Year, a lacrosse-style goal when he lifted the puck on his stick behind the net and wrapped it into the top corner. 

"He has a deceptive release and his hands are really good," Canucks goalie Michael DiPietro said. "It's impressive. He made a breakaway move against me where he put the puck behind his back. I haven't seen that too much, and he did it so fluidly too."

In camp, Hoglander's shot often seemed to finish just under the crossbar, but it was the way he got into prime shooting areas that impressed Johnson.

"It's the finish, but it's also the power and explosiveness out of corners. He almost plays a reverse physical game," Johnson said. "If a defender comes at him, he's not afraid to pop him and explode to the net, which catches people off guard because visually he doesn't overwhelm you. The power in his legs, and the skill set he has, there's something special there."

Hoglander left development camp with instructions to focus more on his edge work. "Turns on the ice, I can be better on that," he said. He also wants to use his shot more this season. If all the facets of his game come together, he hopes to be in the NHL by 2020-21.

That might seem like a big step, but fellow Sweden-born players Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin made that jump one season after being drafted, as did center Elias Pettersson, who won the Calder Trophy voted as the NHL rookie of the year last season and also juggles while riding a unicycle, something Hoglander said helps with better puck control. 

Of his attempt to make to the NHL by the time he's 20, Hoglander said, "It's hard to do, but I will do my best."



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