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Quinn’s Questions: How Would You Handle Nils Höglander?

It’s been a rocky year for Nils Höglander, and the future seems uncertain for him

New Jersey Devils v Vancouver Canucks

Quinn’s Questions is a feature where you the fans tell us your thoughts, through your vote and hopefully in the comments, as well. It’s named after Quinn Hughes, Pat Quinn, or both, depending on your age and era.

Results of previous Quinn’s Questions: How should the Canucks roll out their centres to start the season?

Pettersson-Miller-Horvat-Lazar - 78%

Miller-Horvat-Dickinson-Lazar - 10%

Pettersson-Horvat-Dickinson-Lazar - 7%

Other - 6%

I’m surprised this was such a blowout, but people love the idea of a stacked lines 1-2-3, and I cannot blame them.

Nils Höglander has had a rough trajectory over the past year. He started off a second round pick, and a highly touted one at that — some even had him as a first round pick in the 2019 entry draft. He made his debut in 2020-21, and had a very solid rookie season, putting up 27 points in 56 games. Even more impressively, he did so while never really losing any steam and showing a consistent work ethic and dynamism in his game.

2021-22 didn’t quite go the same way. His offence dipped substantially to 18 points in 60 games, and he didn't show nearly the same tenacity or game-breaking ability he had as a rookie.

The question now is: Was it a classic sophomore slump? Or is it indicative of what Höglander is a long-term NHL product?

It’s a key question here in training camp.

There has been a lot of talk about sending the 21-year-old to the AHL, and it’s a narrative that has been fuelled by Höglander’s absence from the initial training camp lineup. The idea is controversial. Some say it may build his confidence up, as he would presumably dominate with the Abbotsford Canucks. Fair enough, I suppose. Personally, I think that’s overthinking it — Höglander is an established NHLer at this point, and after one poor season, that seems like a very drastic step. If he gets off to a slow start and shows no sign of improvement, then I’ll be open to the idea, but for now, I say we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.

Absent a demotion, there are a few other options.

One is to trade him, either as a standalone asset or as a sweetener in a package, presumably for help on the blue line. I don't hate the premise (they may well need to take trade action to improve the defence, and Höglander is hardly untouchable) but it’s the ultimate case of selling low. I don’t think he’d move the needle much at all for another club.

You could also, of course, keep him in the lineup. You could conceivably play him anywhere. You could easily argue that his skill and speed could fit well alongside an Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, or JT Miller on a top-six line. It could very well build his confidence to play with the big boys, and maximize his offensive output. Having said that, it seems to me a stretch to put him there, given the all the options on the flanks. So my personal pick is probably the obvious one — play him on a third or fourth line, where he can be a reasonable depth scorer while also rounding out his overall game. My ideal style for Höglander would be to be like a Jannik Hansen; tenacious, solid defensively, and a 30-40 point guy. I see no reason why he would be a worse depth option than any random, replacement-level tweener, or even a Jason Dickinson, and I think anyone having Höglander out of the lineup is falling hard for recency bias.

This isn’t to say that people are wrong for predicting Höglander won’t amount to a ton. It’s entirely possible! But to not give him a firm chance is ludicrous in my view. Anyways, have your say folks. What would you do with Nils Höglander? Would you trade him? Demote him? Rely on him in a scoring role? Or as a depth guy? Remember, it’s not what you think will happen, necessarily, but what you think is the best course of action. Let us know in the poll and, of course, the comments.


What would you do with Nils Höglander?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Trade him
    (9 votes)
  • 7%
    Send him to the AHL
    (6 votes)
  • 50%
    Play him in the top six
    (41 votes)
  • 30%
    Play him in the bottom six
    (25 votes)
81 votes total Vote Now