Following three consecutive years of Vancouver Canucks rookies coming in either first or second place in Calder Trophy voting — Elias Pettersson won in 2018-19, while Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser finished as finalists in 2019-20 and 2017-18 respectively — Canucks fans have been left wondering who their rookie of the year candidate will be in 2021.
Nils Hoglander, 20, had a most impressive training camp, which has earned him a spot on the Canucks’ second line with Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson. With the departure of Tyler Toffoli this off-season, the right wing spot on that line was open for the taking, and it seems, through two games, like the Canucks have found Toffoli’s replacement.
Head Coach Travis Green has made it clear that he intends to give this line every chance to succeed. When asked about the trio during training camp, he told reporters, “We’ve got to make decisions. We’re not just out there to skate and condition, we’re out there to see how combinations look.”
That combination looks pretty good so far. In Wednesday’s game against the Oilers, the trio combined for five points, including Hoglander’s first NHL goal. The Canucks came out on the losing end of things on Thursday in the back-to-back, but Hoglander was still dangerous, creating chances and registering a couple shots on goal.
Hoglander’s Skill is Obvious
While skill alone doesn’t mean a successful NHL career, we’ve seen many a highlight-reel goal from Hoglander already. If he can transition that to the NHL, Canucks fans are in for a real treat.
Most notably, he’s scored two “Michigan” or “Lacrosse-Style” goals: one in the Swedish Hockey League and one at the 2020 World Junior Championship. He also spent some time after an on-ice session at training camp teaching the move to a couple of his teammates! When asked if he’d ever try it in an NHL game, he responded with, “We’ll see if I’m gonna try that one day.”
Off the ice, the 5’9”, 190-lb winger is gifted as well. It takes a lot of skill and coordination to be able to juggle while riding a unicycle. However, Hoglander is not the only Swede on the team with that ability- forward Elias Pettersson has been known to show off the skill every now and again as well. I’m sure we can expect a race between the two at some point!
Canucks fans should be excited: Coming off their best year in almost a decade, the team is now deeper and more experienced than before, and Hoglander is only going to add to their success.
Early Prediction: Nils Hoglander for the Calder Trophy 2021!
Guest Post by Brogan Houston
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