Cranberry Twp, Pa — Filip Hallander didn’t specifically say he’s ready to come to North America to begin his professional career. He didn’t actually say it bluntly but the inference was clear. The Pittsburgh Penguins second-round pick from Sweden wants to see what comes next.
Hallander was selected 58th overall in 2018. He’s played in the Swedish Elite league and for Team Sweden in the World Junior Championship. He’s been exposed to the best of his country and best of his contemporaries.
PHN asked him if he had a sense of how close he was to coming to North America. He smiled but he didn’t hesitate until he started to answer.
“I don’t know, I feel that I have a chance to…. I want to play here as soon as possible,” he said. “Then it’s up to Pittsburgh to tell me when I’m ready. I’m just kind of waiting.”
He shrugged as he finished his sentence. Hallander posted 21 points (7g, 14a) in 45 games for Timra of the Swedish Elite League. He was pointless in five games at the World Junior Championships. Sweden won Pool B but were upset by the Swiss in the Quarterfinals. But Hallander did take some positives from it.
“Every time I can play on small rinks and try to adjust to play here it is good,” Hallander said. ”
And more bad news for Hallander, Timra will be relegated to the lower division this season.
But does he feel he is ready for the jump? He was asked if he felt he was physically ready.
“Yeah, yeah. Yep,” he responded simply.
Hallander will have a steep hill to climb into the NHL ranks. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds he isn’t physically imposing. Nor is he an elite skater. He’s not a sure-fire NHL player just yet. But that doesn’t mean the 18-year-old forward isn’t itching for the chance to see what he has against the North American game.
“I’m trying to be better and work on my areas and improve,” said Hallander.
Hallander does carry the curse of the Penguins second-round picks. Not since Greg Malone was selected in 1976 has a Penguins second-round pick played more than 200 games for the team. Recent Penguins second rounders to make it to the NHL, or close, include Daniel Sprong and Tristan Jarry. But Sprong was not able to consistently crack the lineup and Jarry is caught in the Penguins goalie logjam.
Hallander’s scouting report includes the phrases, “nose for the net,” and “projectable frame”. Hallander does have the size necessary for the pro game. During battle drills Thursday, he leaned on a few larger players and used his hips well to control the puck.
He will need to improve his burst to be an NHL winger. His first step at times seems pedestrian. No pun intended.
Hallander was taken a few picks after Calen Addison, who is also at Penguins Development Camp. Addison was able to get a taste of professional hockey at the end of last season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He told PHN how much the experience meant to him.
It seems Hallander is ready for the same. As soon as the Penguins grant the opportunity.