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.
Here are some early season betweenness scores for Timra in the SHL.
Filip Hallander comes out on top for all situations and 3rd for even strength. Jacob Olofsson isn't so bad himself, landing at 6th for all situations and 4th for even strength.
Good stuff for pro-leaguers. pic.twitter.com/tJHG6xwC8F
— Evan Oppenheimer (@OppenheimerEvan) November 15, 2018
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.
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.
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) December 1, 2018
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) December 3, 2018
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:
The Lethbridge Hurricanes’ Jordy Bellerive, Ryan Vandervlis, Jake Elmer, Taylor Ross and Keltie Jeri-Leon stopped by Chinook Regional Hospital Tuesday, visiting kids and handing out their haul from Friday’s annual Teddy Bear Toss at the Enmax Centre. @HurricanesWHL pic.twitter.com/lIfNAHBHGE
— Alberta Health Services (@AHS_media) December 4, 2018
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
Nikita Pavlychev cleans up his own rebound to tie the game. That's his eighth goal of the season. pic.twitter.com/qtSQ6hkbMl
— Patrick Burns (@PatrickBurns_) December 1, 2018
The pucks falls right to Pavlychev and the Russian finishes it to give Penn State its third straight goal and a 4-3 lead. pic.twitter.com/qAd15w4C5K
— Ben Ferree (@BFerree3) December 2, 2018
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:
— Amanda Michalezki (@AmandaMicHerald) December 3, 2018
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.
Drafted: 2016, fourth round
Team: Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)
Season totals: 14 games, 4 assists
Jones was scoreless in two games this week.
Drafted: 2017, second round
Team: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Season totals: None
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.
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.
Drafted: 2017, third round
Team: Minnesota (NCAA)
Season totals: 13 games, 1 goal, 7 assists
Phillips recorded one assist in two games this week.
Drafted: 2017, seventh round
Team: Rensselaer Polytech (NCAA)
Season totals: 10 games, 2 goal, 4 assists
Reilly was scoreless in two games this week.
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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