Perspective of Interest: New Maple Leafs forward Filip Hallander


The Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a six-man trade on Tuesday. The centerpiece of the deal was winger Kasperi Kapanen, originally drafted by Pittsburgh but traded to Toronto as part of the Phil Kessel deal in 2015.

Kapanen was sent to the Penguins with forward Pontus Aberg and defender Jesper Lindgren. The comeback in the other direction was the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, depth forward Evan Rodrigues, AHL defenseman David Warsofsky and a Swedish prospect named Filip Hallander.

Aside from the first round and additional ceiling space, the most notable asset Toronto acquired was Hallander.

With that in mind, here’s a little more on the young striker.

Team: Lulea HF (SHL)
Position: Centre
Tirs: Left
Christmas villas: Sundsvall, Sweden
Age: 20 (born June 29, 2000)
Size: 6 feet 1
Weight: 190 pounds

Hallander was a late second-round pick in 2018, when Pittsburgh selected him 58th overall, and was widely regarded as one of the top three prospects in the Penguins pipeline.

He signed an entry-level contract at Pittsburgh in 2018, but never made the team that season, so his freshman year slipped to 2019-20. He has two years left on his rookie contract before becoming a restricted free agent in 2022.

Spent his entire playing career in Sweden

Hallander spent his junior career in the Timrå system where he was at times a teammate with 2019 Calder Memorial Trophy winner Elias Pettersson, despite being two years younger than the Vancouver Canucks star.

He made the jump to the SHL in 2018-19, where he finished the season with 21 points in 45 games. He had an impressive – albeit brief – playoff series with five goals and eight points in seven games.

Hallander joined a new team in 2019-20 after being transferred to Luleå in the SHL. He missed several months after breaking his leg in an early season game and finished the year with 14 points in 27 games.

He regularly represents his country in international tournaments, having won gold at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and bronze at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2017. He was part of the Sweden World Junior team in 2019, but the aforementioned leg injury prevented him from making the 2020 squad.

Hallander has signed a two-year contract with Luleå, so Maple Leafs fans shouldn’t be surprised if he stays in Sweden for the 2020-2021 season.

A power in the making

Hallander was thrilled to be drafted by Pittsburgh two years ago in part because he said he was modeling his game after Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist. Hallander told in 2018 that while many of his compatriots loved watching Erik Karlsson and Nicklas Backstrom, he believed Hornqvist was underrated.

“He’s just a solid two-way street player,” Pittsburgh amateur scouting director Patrik Allvin said of Hallander at the time. “He has these character traits like Patric Hornqvist. He goes to difficult areas and produces.

Growing up, his favorite player was Peter Forsberg because he was both skillful and physical. So you can see that there is a trend there.

Hallander has at times also drawn comparisons to Swedish forward Alex Steen, with whom Maple Leafs fans are quite familiar.

The Maple Leafs were interested in 2018

Toronto was one of the teams Hallander sat down with in the 2018 NHL scouting combined. In fact, it was his first interview.

The Maple Leafs took defenseman Rasmus Sandin with the 29th overall pick that year and followed it up by taking on fellow defenseman Sean Durzi in the second round at 52nd – just six spots ahead of Hallander.

The Penguins traded the 64th and 146th picks to the Colorado Avalanche in order to move and select Hallander.

It’s still far too early to judge the 2018 Draft, as only two first-round retirements made their NHL debuts.

Comes from a hockey family

Hallander’s father Patrik played professionally in Sweden from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, including several seasons with Timrå, where he was a teammate with future NHL star Fredrik Modin.

Later in life Patrik became a coach as an assistant bench chief for the U16 team in Timrå. He helped coach his son’s team in the 2015-16 campaign and stayed with the Under-16 club for a few more seasons after his son left.


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