As of now, there has never been a Norwegian-born player drafted in the first round of the NHL draft. In fact, the highest a player from Norway has ever been drafted is Marius Holtet at 42nd overall in the 2nd round back in 2002. He never played a single game in the NHL. There have never been any others in the second round, and then three in the third round – including Leafs legend Sondre Olden in 2010... who also never played a game in the NHL.

Which means that, this year, Michael Brandsegg-Nygård has the chance to make history for his country. He, like Tij Iginla, is a lock to be a first round pick. He may not be a top 10 guy, but he seems like he'll be one of the top players taken outside of that range. That would make him a mid-first round kind of guy at the more likely high end, with an outside chance (read: not very likely but I'm high on copium right now) of being a late first rounder at first.


  • Position: Right-Shot Winger
  • League(s): Sweden U20 Junior, Hockey Allsvenskan (2nd tier pro league)
  • Height: 6'1"
  • Weight: 207 lbs
  • Birthdate: October 5th, 2005

Here are his draft rankings, as of writing this:

  • Bob McKenzie: 20th
  • Will Scouch: 10th
  • Elite Prospects: 16th
  • Scott Wheeler: 14th
  • Future Considerations: 10th
  • Dobber Prospects: 12th
  • McKeen's Hockey: 16th

Brandsegg-Nygård is an October 2005 birthday, making him one of the older prospects in this draft. He started this season in Sweden's U20 junior league, where he was simply dominant. He played in only 7 games, and had 12 points. From there he was promoted to their pro team, which was in the second tier league (Allsvenskan) for the rest of the season. He started on their fourth line when he was originally called up, but quickly worked his way up the lineup until he was on their top line and used in all situations.

In 41 games for Mora's pro team, Brandsegg-Nygård put up 18 points in 41 games which was by far the most of any first-time draft eligible prospect. In fact, it's one of the higher totals and rates of production for his age group in the Allsvenskan in the past decade. And in the playoffs, his production hit another level:.

Brandsegg-Nygård also played for Norway's international teams as often as he could, and usually well above his age level. This is both because of how good he is, but also because Norway really doesn't have a lot of good players. He helped them qualify for the World Juniors this year after putting up 5 points in 5 games at the U20 level as a 16/17 year old. This year he added another 5 points in 5 games at the World Juniors as a 17/18 year old, and another 12 points in 9 games at various other international tournaments.

From Lassi Alannen's European tracking project:

At the World Juniors, Brandsegg-Nygård was on their top line but was not their best/most effective player. That's not a knock on him, as he still had pretty good production considering Norway was very often outmatched. The fact that he was able to hang in with the play, at his age, on one of the weaker teams in the tournament, is still a very good sign.

But Brandsegg-Nygård's international experience didn't end there, as he played for Norway's men's team at the World Men's Hockey Championship in May. He was not their most used forward, but averaged 14:10 minutes per game, and was third on the team in points (3 goals, 2 assists) while only one point back of the co-leaders. Norway was very often outmatched in shots and chances, but hung into games because of good defense and goaltending – to an extent, anyway. And he did his part, scoring the game winning goal in their one win on a blistering shot. He did not look out of place despite his age, especially physically.


While his raw skills are not necessarily as high level as some of the top forward prospects in this year's draft, the strength of Brandsegg-Nygård's game is that he has a pretty complete skillset across the board. There are no major weaknesses, including with his off-puck game, defense, forechecking, physical play, and so on. So he's a bit of a "Jack of All Trades, Master of None" kind of player, except while he may not be a 'master' at any particular skill they are all at a pretty high level.

Brandsegg-Nygård's is an excellent skater, though again not elite. He has better speed in a straight line than he has agility, I'd say, though again it's not at all a major weakness. But he is very strong on his feed, hard to knock off the puck, and is a handful already along the boards. His speed combined with his aggressive forechecking and physicality makes him a bit of a bull in a glass shop in his style. In this sense, he's a bit like Matthew Knies if you want a stylistic comparison.

From Scott Wheeler at The Athletic:

He’s a multifaceted shooter who can score from the top of the circles with his wrister but also gets down to one knee and really powers through a good one-touch shot — skills that have helped him excel on both the flank and the bumper on the power play across domestic and international levels. He’s not a dynamic individual play creator but he’s got pro size, he works extremely hard and engages himself in the play, he plays well off of his linemates, and he’s got good all-around skill. He also plays the game with a physical tilt even against pros, constantly engaging in battles and keeping his effort level ramped up. He's got a commitment to staying on pucks and finishing his checks, and uses a long stick to protect pucks well out wide to his body.

Brandsegg-Nygård is arguably a better shooter than he is a passer or playmaker. He uses his size, strength on his feet and speed to bully his way with the puck to the net. He gets a lot of chances and goals from being around the net, and not letting defenders box him out or push him away. And he has enough skill handling the puck to make it even harder to get the puck off him.

From Sebastian High at Dobber Prospects:

His shot grades really highly in our eyes, featuring a heavy wrist shot release which he is comfortable using in motion and on either leg. Brandsegg-Nygård has definite upside as a goal-scorer, especially off the rush and in the vicinity of the crease. He uses his plus-level stride and mobility in tandem with his strength and puck-protection tools to attack the middle and retain possession in transition. While this facet of his game remains a tad linear for our liking, the progression his on-puck confidence has seen over the past 6 months is more than notable. If his goal-scoring can become his marquee tool, he could hit the 30-goal plateau in an NHL top-six...

Brandsegg-Nygård is not necessarily dynamic in how he generates offense or finishes plays, but uses his ability to create chaos with speed and physical intensity as a means of generating chances for himself and teammates. He gets good ratings and reviews from scouts for his vision and – everyone's favourite term – 'hockey IQ' for how he solves problems under pressure. His passing is pretty simple but he can at least complete most of the passes he makes as a result.

From Lassi Alanen at Elite Prospects:

There are strong forecheckers, and then there's Brandsegg-Nygård, arguably the best forward in the draft at applying pressure and forcing turnovers in the offensive and neutral zones. A menacing presence, Brandsegg-Nygård's strength as a forechecker revolves around a few key components.
First of all, he has one of the best physical games in the entire draft class. Aside from laying the occasional thunderous open-ice hit, he's consistently using smaller contact plays to his advantage...
But it's not all about pure strength or mechanical ability; Brandsegg-Nygård is also really good at reading the defender's intentions on a breakout. He takes away the right angles and baits defenders into certain plays before taking it away at the last second.


If there's a big problem or concern that I've seen expressed from scouts, it's that Brandsegg-Nygård arguably does not have a high enough level of skill to be a higher pick. Which is weird, considering how many of them all rank him as a borderline top 10 guy, but that's what I've seen mentioned a lot.

In that case, it's all about projection. Brandsegg-Nygård may feel like a safe pick because he has basically every other tool in the toolbox to be a solid NHL player. His defensive play, skating, size, physicality, and all that good stuff is likely enough to make him a good bottom six, energy, checking, penalty killing winger. Any better than that will come from how good you think his skills will play in the NHL, and/or how good you think you can develop those skills to be even better than they're expected to be by other teams.

Just look at Matthew Knies. We consider that a great pick, and he has a similar profile. But he was also a second round pick. How happy would you be with him if he was a higher first round pick? You may prefer to swing on someone who offers more upside offensively, for forwards, or more complete impact for defensemen.


All of that said, those are the reasons why Bob McKenzie's most current rankings likely haven't fully bought in on Brandsegg-Nygård yet. On the other hand, he is exactly the kind of player that gets taken higher than his final ranking from Bob. So while being ranked 2oth (as of now) could put him in a potential range for Toronto's pick, I still consider him to be a pipe dream. It would be a long shot for him to fall that far, but if Toronto falls a bit more down the standings by the time the playoffs roll around, or if they pull off some kind of trade that gets them a slightly higher pick like they did when they drafted Amirov, I'd love to have him.

While he may share a similar profile as Knies, the potential for Brandsegg-Nygård to become an even better version of him is real. Imagine building around the core four with a mix of bigger, quality supporting wingers like Knies, McMann, and Brandsegg-Nygård who offer a mix of speed and power to their games? I don't hate that, personally.

Thanks for reading!

I put a lot of work into my prospect articles here, both for the draft and Toronto's prospects. I do it as a fun hobby for me, and I'd probably do it in some capacity even if PPP completely ceased to exist. But if you like reading my work, some support would go a long way! I pay for a few streaming services (CHL, NCAA, USHL, the occasional TSN options for international tournaments that are broadcast) to be able to reliably watch these prospects in good quality streams. I also pay for some prospect-specific resources, such as tracking data and scouting reports from outlets like Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey, and The Athletic.

Being able to get paid for this helps me dedicate more time and resources to it, rather than to second/third jobs. And whatever money I make here, a lot of I reinvest back into my prospect work through in those streaming and scouting services. Like I said, I'd be doing whatever I can afford for this anyway, so any financial help I get through this is greatly appreciated!

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