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Player profile: Reintroducing Filip Hallander to the Penguins

Getting to know the Penguins draft pick who got traded away from the Pittsburgh organization but is back again

NHL: JUN 28 Pittsburgh Penguins Development Camp Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Penguins drafted Filip Hallander in the second round in 2018. They brought him over to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2019 for the (usually annual) prospect camp where he practiced for a few days in Cranberry at the UPMC Lemieux complex. But then they traded him in the summer 2020 in the Kasperi Kapanen deal. And then yesterday they traded back for Hallander to bring him full circle back into the organization.

Let’s get to know him, or perhaps remember a bit more about this player.

Filip Hallander just turned 21 years old a couple of weeks ago. He signed his NHL contract in the summer of 2018 with the Pens but has played in Sweden exclusively, in part due to the coronavirus situation of last year. Hallander played on loan last season with Luleå, one of the top teams in the SHL. And he played mostly on the left wing of the first line of the team, notching 24 points in 51 games.

As seen above, Hallander was also a part of the senior team for Sweden’s World Championship team in 2021. He has also represented his country at the World Junior competitions at the age U-18 and U-20 levels.

Hallander is a very a well-rounded young player, he is good at the front of the net and willing to go there for deflections and looking for rebounds. His skating is not top end, and he suffered a broken leg in 2019 as well. He’s not a flashy player with a lot of ability in his hands and he also isn’t a plus skater, but has been effective and was able to rise to be a first line player on a top Swedish team. That speaks a lot to his all-around ability and maturity at a young age to rise to a top role for a very good team in a competitive men’s league.

Due to his play at advanced professionals levels at a young age and earning a big role, plus being able to produce points on top of that, models think that Hallander is a “high floor, low ceiling” type of prospect.

While Hallander doesn’t stand out with excessive skill in his hands or feet, he is a still a very solid and responsible young forward. There isn’t another Pens’ forward in the model above with a 30% chance of being a 200+ NHL game positive WAR player, so Hallander dropping in at 78% speaks to how impressive his early career status and progress has been as far as being a likely factor for the NHL based on his age 17-20 data.

However, Hallander’s most likely ceiling and path looks like a future third line NHL winger — or short of that, a really good fourth liner. Hallander has the smarts and awareness to be in the mix to play a role on the PK unit as well. He probably isn’t going to be a player that will take over games and stand out consistently, but he has a base with the all-around ability to be a quality role player in the future.

Hallander was drafted as a natural center, but has played mostly on the wing in Sweden. Time will tell if the Penguins try to integrate him in North America on the smaller rinks in the middle of the ice, and his playmaking assist totals show that he might have an aptitude for it. But overall, his skating and experience are pointing to a projection of a player that is most likely going to end up as left winger.

With two more years remaining on his entry level contract, the plan for Hallander (until we hear differently) would be for him to start in America for the 2021-22 season. It looks almost certain that he will have to prove himself in Wilkes-Barre, where the Pens will also have a more dynamic offensive LW prospect in Samuel Poulin joining the ranks of the organization as well.

If Hallander’s success in the SHL translates this side of the ocean, he figures to advance from the AHL level to the NHL fairly quickly — perhaps as soon as a mid-season call up for Pittsburgh sometime in 2021-22. Hallander doesn’t project to be a game-breaking talent at the highest level, but so far he has shown the hockey IQ and ability to figure into being a contributing and positive member of the organization in the near future.

Pittsburgh has a lacking prospect system that is very devoid of talent for players age 18-24 in the system with realistic NHL futures, which makes a player the caliber of Hallander look like a very important add at this point. Filip Hallander has the skills and upside to be one of the organization’s few young pieces, and that future ought to be sooner than later if he continues on the path that once sent him away but now has brought him back to the Penguins.