After waiting until pick #53 to make their first pick, the Pittsburgh Penguins acted decisvely to make sure their second pick was quicker, trading up to get a second 2nd round pick. The Pens traded their 3rd rounder (#64) and a depth pick (#146) to move up to 58th overall.
With that new pick, the Pens selected center Filip Hallander from Sweden.
Hallander is a preferred prospect by The Athletic’s Corey Pronman who gave this report on him:
Hallander was an important part of a young and dangerous Timra offense, which advanced to the SHL. Almost every time I’ve watched Hallander this season I’ve come away impressed by his skill level and ability to make plays. He’s a coordinated puck handler who can make skilled plays and do so at a pro pace. His combination of skill and IQ allowed him to create chances at the Allsvenskan level consistently. He can make plays to his teammates and finish, as well, but I like him more as a playmaker, as he has great vision. He’s not a great skater, with a bit of an awkward stride, but he has reasonable speed when he gets going. While he’s not incredibly physical, he can win some battles and he’s OK defensively.
Sweden’s U18 coach Torgny Bendelin said: “He’s a really smart player, very skilled and a goal scorer.”
Craig Button on NHL Network called it a “safe pick” but one that wouldn’t do much for the Pens in the near-future due to expected development time.
Habs Eyes on the Prize (The Montreal SBN blog) gave this report:
The big winger/centre has a lot of skills, and most of them will be on display when Hållander is in the offensive zone. He usually uses his big body to get results. He is a good forechecker, he drives hard to the net, and he can be used on the penalty kill where he blocks shots and fights hard to get on the puck and disrupt the attackers.
Even if his skating technique can sometimes look mechanical, he has a good top speed and a good acceleration. He could benefit from working with a skating coach to get a more fluid skating style, and add even more speed and acceleration to enhance his game.
His wrist shot is good and accurate, and can be used from quite a few angles on the ice. Hållander battles hard every shift, and his hockey IQ is quite high, allowing him to react well when the game situation changes during play. His passing game is solid but not exceptional, which is about what you’d expect from a player known for his on-ice awareness.
His defensive reads leave a few things to be desired, and he does have a tendency to cheat in order to get on the counter-attack faster. He is not as consistent in his play, and you can lose track of him in a game because he can easily go missing for long stretches. These two things might be because he has been playing injured, but it can also stem from the fact that he needs to improve his physique and stamina to be consistent at a higher level of play.
Hållander is a great leader, however, and he uses his hockey IQ to great effect. He will direct his teammates during play and he is very active during stops of play or at the bench, be it with a kind word or a certain play that needs to be analyzed or fixed.
Well, this one has new head scout (and fellow Swede) Patrik Allvin’s fingerprints all over it. Hallander is a very, very young prospect - he doesn’t even turn 18 years old until later this month. He has a lot of development to go, but it seems encouraging to have these reports that the Pens added a guy with potential and high-end hockey sense and offensive ceiling.
They traded up six spots to get him, so they must have thought he wouldn’t have lasted until that point. The Pens got their guy, now we’ll wait years to find out what he may become.