For the first time in a long time, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman had an abundance of draft picks at his disposal for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He had so many picks available, in fact, that he packaged a few of them together to move up in the draft. The Blackhawks shipped picks in the third and fifth round, No. 87 and 142 overall, respectively, to the Arizona Coyotes for the No. 74 overall pick in the draft. With that selection, they picked Finnish right winger Niklas Nordgren.
Position: Right wing
Birth date: May 4, 2000
Acquired via: Third-round pick (No. 74 overall) in 2018
Most recent stop: HIFK — SM-Liiga (Finland)
Size: 5’9, 169 pounds
Nordgren is still quite young and has a lot of development to go, but there’s been a lot to like about the Finnish forward. While playing for HIFK’s under-20 team, he had 13 goals with 42 points. Nordgren also found his way to the top HIFK squad and tallied three assists in 15 games.
When playing against players in his age group, Nordgren dominated, scoring eight goals with two assists while representing Finland for seven games at the under-18 World Junior Championship. The last of those eight goals was the gold-medal winner.
The book on Nordgren is typical for that of the undersized forward: Nordgren’s flaws involve a lack of physicality, but he possesses a strong offensive game with quick hands, quality vision and a knack for finding the open space to let go of a good, hard wrist shot. That’s something he discussed in his first press conference after being drafted:
What’s next in 2018-19?
Nordgren’s contract with HIFK runs through the 2020-21 hockey season, so that’s where he’ll remain for the immediate future.