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Nils Hoglander says he will return to Sweden if he doesn’t make the Canucks in 2020-21

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Sorry Utica, but it sounds like it’s NHL or bust for Hoglander.

2019 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
Nils Hoglander react after being selected 40th overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks have seen a number of their prospects graduate to the NHL recently. Will Nils Hoglander be the next Canucks prospect to do so?

If not, he’ll likely be back in the SHL for the 2020-21 season.

Sorry Utica.

The 19-year-old is fresh off of signing a three-year, entry-level deal with the Canucks. The deal will reportedly pay him $891,667 per season. Hoglander will receive $1.125 million if he plays in the NHL and maxes our his bonuses.

However, what’s most prudent for Canucks fans to be aware of is the European Assignment Clause in his contract. Because of the clause, Hoglander likely will not end up in Utica if he doesn’t make the Canucks out of camp.

Now, the European Assignment Clause doesn’t completely rule out a trip to the AHL. However, the fact that Hoglander just signed the deal with that clause included signals that it’s likely NHL or Sweden for him in 2020-21.

The highly-touted prospect said as much in an interview posted on Rogle’s website. Here’s the translation below.

Nils was selected in the second round last summer - which means according to current agreement that if Nils does not play in the NHL then Vancouver may not put him in the AHL but he will then return to the club he has contracted with, thus Rögle in this case. Something Nils is totally committed to.

“I am obviously aiming to take a place in the NHL. But if it doesn’t work out, I’ll come back to Rögle.”

The European Assignment Clause has been used on a couple occasions in recent memory. Winnipeg Jets prospect Kristian Vesalainen used the clause to return to the KHL after playing five AHL games for the Manitoba Moose in 2018-19. New York Rangers prospect Vitali Kravstov also has the clause in his contract, although he chose to stay in the AHL for 2019-20.

What are Hoglander’s chances of making the Canucks?

I said it recently on the Silky N’ Filthy podcast, but there are two words that will have the largest impact in determining Hoglander’s fate.

Tyler Toffoli.

If the Canucks are somehow able to afford the 27-year-old, there won’t be much room for the teenage Swede to force his way onto the roster. Hoglander is a left winger (as opposed to Toffoli who primarily plays on the right), but the Canucks top-six will nonetheless be crowded if Toffoli returns.

Now, he could slide into a third line role with players such as Adam Gaudette, Jake Virtanen, Antoine Roussel or Josh Leivo, Micheal Ferland. However, it’s probably best to utilize Hoglander with a centre who is more responsible defensively, and Gaudette isn’t there yet.

As enticing as Hoglander is, the list above highlights that there are still a sizable number of proven NHLers that he has to beat out for a job.