Today, Nils Hoglander found himself playing next to Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson on the first day of training camp with the Vancouver Canucks.
Vancouver Canucks training camp officially opened on Sunday, but today marked the first time that members of the Canucks hit the ice for practice. The roster was divided into two different groups and people are already taking notes on how Travis Green is deploying his lines.
Coming into camp there has been a lot of speculation on who will fill out Vancouver’s top-six forward group. With Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Tanner Pearson all considered to be locks, the real question has been surrounding who will claim that sixth and final spot.
Today, people got a glimpse of what to expect, or at least what Green has been eager to set his eyes on. Surprisingly enough, Jake Virtanen (who was expected to fill the role) was not the coach’s first batter up. In fact, it was the Canucks’ 2nd round pick of 2019, Nils Hoglander, who slotted in next to Horvat and Pearson.
Coming into camp, Hoglander has been considered a wild card. The shifty Swede has enjoyed a successful year on loan in the SHL where he’s managed to put up 14 points in 23 games while playing a bit of a sheltered role. Not only that, but Hoglander has been back to his creative tricks all season long. He’s been able to rack up quite an impressive highlight-reel that’s skyrocketed him to the top of the Canucks’ prospect pool and right onto one of the Canucks’ top lines – something he admitted he was nervous about in the post-practice media scrum.
“When I first saw that, I was a little bit nervous. Two really good players and good guys and it was just good to be out there. It helped to have good games in Sweden and I came here with good confidence. It felt good today.”
The left-handed shooter was firing on all cylinders today and the chemistry appeared to be catching on quickly. He was lightning fast on his skates, his hands were solid, and he managed to keep up with the Canucks captain.
Usually, it would be premature to make such a bold statement this early on, but with little time and no pre-season games before puck drop next Wednesday, Hoglander could find himself inside the top-six on opening night if he can continue at his current pace.
“We don’t have time for young guys to dip their toe[s] in the water. You hope you get a guy who hits the ice and is confident and it doesn’t affect him,” said Green when talking about Hoglander.
Day 1 of practice couldn’t have gone much better for the 20-year-old winger, but it’ll be interesting to see how he performs defensively once the Canucks get some scrimmages going later this week.
For now, Hoglander should be happy with how he’s matching up against NHL competitors and fans of the Canucks should be excited about what’s to come in 2021. Keep your eyes on The Canuck Way for all your Canucks content through training camp.