Patric Hornqvist is certainly a unique individual. There aren't many like him. So when you come across a player who tries to model his game after the Penguins' winger, you do what you can to get that player.
That's why the Penguins traded up to select forward Filip Hallander in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, sending their 64th and 146th overall picks to Colorado for the 58th overall selection on Saturday. And afterward, Pens director of amateur scouting Patrik Allvin said he had the potential to go even higher.
"We watched Filip a lot during the first half. 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," Allvin said. "He's just a solid, two-way player. He has those character traits like Patric Hornqvist. He goes to the hard areas and produces. We felt that he fits what we're looking for in a player."
Hallander said he had a great talk with Penguins brass at the 2018 NHL Scouting Combine, but had no idea they liked him enough to trade up for him.
"It's very nice, of course," he said. "You feel respected and when they want you, it's a better feeling."
Hallander grew up watching Peter Forsberg - "just like everybody back home in Sweden," he joked - but compares his game to Hornqvist.
"I haven't met him, (but) maybe we can play on the same line someday," Hallander said.
For kids like Hallander, seeing the recent success of their countrymen Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin, who both brought the Stanley Cup to Sweden two summers in a row, has been something special to watch.
"It's huge for us back home in Sweden to see people succeed at this level, at the highest level," Hallander said. "It's very nice."
Hallander said he's not quite as vocal as Hornqvist, but tries to be just as intense and gritty when it comes to his play. Hallander, who currently measures 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds, said he likes to be in the offensive zone and create scoring chances.
"I like to be at the front of the net and around the net scoring goals, putting in the rebounds," he said.
The 18-year-old is coming off his first full season with Timra of the Swedish Elite League, where he recorded nine goals and 20 points in 40 games.
"It was a great year for him being on a pro team moving up in a tough league in Sweden," Allvin said. "He's going to be on the Swedish World Junior team going to Canada in August, too."
For now, Hallander plans on returning to the club this fall and focusing on his development for the next year or two. In the meantime, he plans on enjoying this with his father and brother, who are with him in Dallas today.
"To just think about how many great players there are on the Penguins, and players who are coming up like (Jake) Guentzel, good young players, I hope to be there one day," Hallander said. "I'm really happy to be here."