With apologies to Jake Guentzel (who was a bit under the radar at the time of his drafting) the Pittsburgh Penguins really haven’t drafted a forward high to give their fans someone to track and be excited since....Beau Bennett in 2010? Sure there was Kasperi Kapanen drafted in 2014 but traded very quickly in 2015, and Daniel Sprong in ‘15 fits the bill a lot too, but the decade of the 2010’s has been very light for Pittsburgh investing what few high picks they get on forwards.
2018 second round pick Filip Hallander changes that a bit, with the formality of signing his entry level contract now a matter taken care of.
The Penguins have signed forward Filip Hallander (@FHallander) to a three-year, entry-level contract.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 15, 2018
Pittsburgh chose Hallander in the 2nd round of this year's draft. Hallander will spend 2018.19 skating for Timra IK of the Swedish Hockey League.
More: https://t.co/iK4nK5688c pic.twitter.com/weyMRLRZiF
Pittsburgh traded up a bit from Ottawa’s 3rd round pick they received in the Derick Brassard trade to draft Hallander 58th overall. Hallander just turned 18 years old a couple of weeks ago.
This scouting report from Defending Big D also stood out:
Not many draft-eligible players have made the impression Filip Hallander did this season. At a clip of .54 points per game, Hallander sits above players like Filip Forsberg, Jacob De La Rose, Victor Rask, and Andre Burakovsky for a top draft year season in the Allsvkenskan.
So how did he do it?
The first thing that that jumps out at you when you watch Hallander is the frenetic pace he’s able to play at. He’s pure thrash — aggressive, on beat, and in your face. It’s the kind of thing you don’t see enough in talented players. No, I don’t want them trying to act like Tom Wilson (nor is Hallander by any means dirty; just look at those penalty minute totals), but it’s refreshing to see a player just take what’s theirs.
Hallander has all the skills you want in a forward; great forechecker, works hard in high danger areas, fights for the slot, quick mitts, a good release, solid vision, and does it all with pace. He doesn’t have great acceleration, but his top speed is very good.
Hallander uses these well-rounded skills to open up lanes for his teammates. He’s very good at distributing the puck with forecheckers in his face — further emphasizing the relentless pace he plays with. He has quite a bit of Patric Hornqvist on him; he’s not afraid to park himself right in front of the goalie and take a few facewashes just to secure that extra whack at the puck in case it’s loose (or, if you watch his highlight reel below — not afraid to literally crash into the goalie).
His highlight reel backs a lot of that up.
So how does this player fall in the draft? Hallander was hampered by a knee injury that caused him to miss time last season, including the U-18 tournament that means a lot for scouting. Understandably that caused a fall in his draft stock but also represents a great value for Pittsburgh to get a player that many had tabbed to be a late 1st/early 2nd round prospect all the way at the end of the 2nd round.
The Pens have already announced Hallander will play in Sweden this year, which is just fine. The competition against men will be a great opportunity for him to continue to progress. It seems like forever since Pittsburgh has had a skater prospect on one of the “big” countries (USA, CAN, RUS, SWE) World Juniors team. Hallander should offer that, and finally give Pens prospect watchers a chance to follow and track a legitimately interesting and skilled forward for the first time in quite a while.