Prospect Watch: Hallander gains experience


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Filip Hallander. --

The Penguins like having European prospects in their system.

When a player is drafted out of a country like Sweden, they are able to play professional hockey before even making the jump to North America. Players can play in top leagues like the SHL against grown men, and that experience can often give players an edge in their development.

One Penguins forward prospect gaining professional experience overseas this season is 2018 second-round pick Filip Hallander, making his SHL debut with Timrå IK.

Hallander is only 18 years old, the youngest player on his team. He's playing alongside some players in their 30s. You wouldn't be able to tell from his play, though. He's second on his team in scoring with five goals and seven assists in 21 games. He scored these two goals in as many games this week:

Analyst Evan Oppenheimer recently put together a look at Timra’s “betweenness” scores, which rates players based on how often they score or register assists, assist on many different players’ goals, and how many players tend to only score with Hallander involved in the play. Hallander has the highest rating on his team, which means he’s a big factor in many of his teams’ goals.

Hallander may be an SHL rookie, but he still had some professional experience entering this season. Timra competed in the HockeyAllsvenskan league last season, the second-highest level of professional hockey in Sweden.

During this summer’s development camp, Chris Bradford asked Hallander what it was like playing in a professional men’s league last season.

“No, it was fun,” said Hallander, a 6-foot-2, 187-pound center. “It was a bit scary at the beginning, but you get used to it.”

Hallander is a playmaker and a strong skater who is responsible defensively. When he was drafted, Penguins director of amateur scouting Patrik Allvin compared Hallander to another Swedish Penguin.

“He has those character traits like Patric Hornqvist — he goes to the hard areas and he produces," said Allvin.

As expected, Hallander on Wednesday was named to the preliminary roster for Team Sweden in the World Junior Championship. Hallander's center in Timra, Jacob Olofsson, was also named to the roster.

Hallander projects as a future top-6 forward. He's played center in his career, but he has primarily played wing this season.

The Penguins signed Hallander to his entry-level contract in July, and it will kick in when Hallander moves to North America to play. Because he's signed by Pittsburgh, he's considered on loan to Timra, and the Penguins can bring him to North America at any time.

Hallander will likely join Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this spring on an amateur tryout agreement following the conclusion of Timra's season. Whether he'll return to Sweden or move to North America in 2019-20 is not yet known.



Justin Almeida
Position: Center/Wing
Size: 5-9/158
Drafted: 2018, fifth round
Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Season totals: 
21 games, 6 goals, 25 assists

Almeida scored two goals and two assists in four games this week. He's scored in 19 of his 21 games this season.

Jordy Bellerive
Position: Center
Size: 5-10/195
Drafted: Undrafted
Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Season totals: 
27 games, 11 goals, 19 assists

Bellerive scored one goal and two assists in three games this week. He was not invited to Canada's selection camp for the World Junior Championship, although he wasn't expected to. No projected roster I looked at leading up to the roster announcement had Bellerive included; Canada is just so deep at forward this year.

Bellerive (left) also visited children in a hospital with his teammates this week:

Kasper Bjorkqvist
Position: Wing
Size: 6-1/198
Drafted: 2016, second round
Team: Providence College (NCAA)
Season totals: 
15 games, 7 goals, 6 assists

Bjorkqvist recorded two assists in two games this week

Jan Drozg
Position: Wing
Size: 6-0/174
Drafted: 2017, fifth round
Team: Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Season totals: 
27 games, 8 goals, 23 assists

Drozg recorded one assist in three games this week. He leads the Cataractes in scoring by a margin of 10 points.

Drozg will represent his native Slovenia in the World Junior Championship this season, albeit not in the main tournament. Slovenia competes in the third level tournament, the Division I Group B tournament, along with Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, and Ukraine.

Drozg led Slovenia in the tournament last year with five goals and four assists in five games.

Liam Gorman
Position: Center
Size: 6-2/188
Drafted: 2018, sixth round
Team: St. Sebastian’s School (USHS-Prep)
Season totals: 
3 games

Gorman's team began playing regular season games this week, and they went 2-1 in three games. It's nearly impossible to find box scores for these high school games, and his team does not have a stats page. I see he did have at least one assist this week, based off of his team's Twitter account.

Filip Hallander
Position: Center/Wing
Size: 6-1/190
Drafted: 2018, second round
Team: Timrå IK (SHL)
Season totals: 
21 games, 5 goals, 7 assists

Hallander scored two goals and one assist in two games this week.

Nikita Pavlychev
Position: Center
Size: 6-8/225
Drafted: 2015, seventh round
Team: Penn State (NCAA)
Season totals: 
15 games, 9 goals, 10 assists

Pavlychev scored two goals in two games this week:


Calen Addison
Drafted: 2018, second round
Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Season totals: 
27 games, 4 goals, 24 assists

Addison registered three assists in as many games this week. Addison was named to Canada's selection camp for the upcoming World Junior Championship, and is expected to make the final roster.

Addison and the Hurricanes also spent some time working in a local soup kitchen:

Niclas Almari

Size: 6-1/167
Drafted: 2016, fifth round
Team: HPK (Liiga), HPK U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
Season totals: 
12 games, 2 assist with HPK; 2 games, 1 assist with HPK U20

Almari played two scoreless games with HPK this week.

Ryan Jones
Drafted: 2016, fourth round
Team: Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)
Season totals: 
14 games, 4 assists

Jones was scoreless in two games this week.

Zachary Lauzon
Drafted: 2017, second round
Team: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Season totals: 

Lauzon is still rehabbing from the neck injury he sustained last season. He has resumed training on his own and is forecast to return to game action some time in December.

Antti Palojarvi
Drafted: 2017, sixth round
Team: Lukko (Liiga), Lukko U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
Season totals: 
5 games, 1 assist with Lukko; 20 games, 4 goals, 6 assists with Lukko U20

Palojarvi played two scoreless games with Lukko U20.

Clayton Phillips
Drafted: 2017, third round
Team: Minnesota (NCAA)
Season totals: 
13 games, 1 goal, 7 assists

Phillips recorded one assist in two games this week.

William Reilly
Drafted: 2017, seventh round
Team: Rensselaer Polytech (NCAA)
Season totals: 
10 games, 2 goal, 4 assists

Reilly was scoreless in two games this week.


Alex D’Orio
Drafted: Undrafted
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Season totals: 
21 games (3-17), 4.74 goals against average, .879 save percentage

D'Orio started two games this week, a win and a loss. The win was his (and Saint John's) first since Oct. 9.

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