With the 25th pick in the 2022 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, Pension Plan Puppets select Noah Östlund on behalf of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This is part of the annual Mock Draft that all SB Nation blogs participate in for the first round of draft picks. Each blog is tasked to pick their player at their team’s draft position(s). We didn’t participate in last year’s Mock Draft, since it is only for the first round and the Leafs did not have a first round pick. The last time we did, Hardev wrote about our pick: William Wallinder.

This year, we decided we would stick with our irrational love of Swedes and take the last remaining member of the Djurgårdens Three.

We considered a few names before making this pick. In recent weeks I have been writing several player profiles already, and some of them are still available. Most notably, Owen Pickering and Sam Rinzel.

But we wanted to change things up for this Mock Draft. In part because I didn’t feel like just re-writing what I already said about those two. We considered other guys like Jimmy Snuggerud, Jagger Firkus, Owen Beck, and Calle Odelius. But we settled on someone that just missed the cut when I was deciding on my final list of players to profile.

Who would you have taken at 25th overall with who was available?

Noah Östlund—ranked 22nd by Bob131
Owen Pickering—ranked 23rd299
Filip Mesar—ranked 30th16
Sam Rinzel—ranked 31st15
Tristan Luneau—ranked 32nd22

So let’s talk about Noah Östlund.

Birthplace: Nykvarn, Sweden

Date of birth: March 11, 2004

Shoots: Left

Position: Centre

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 163 lbs.

Team: Djurgårdens (SHL)

In a lot of ways, Östlund seems like the prototypical Kyle Dubas draft pick. He’s a bit smaller, but he oozes skill. In the last two seasons he’s put up 64 points in 47 games at the U20 level between regular season and playoffs. He was a dominant force for Sweden at the World U18 Championships this year, to the tune of 4 goals and 6 assists in just 6 games.

But he isn’t necessarily the flashiest offensive player, considering his point totals. He gets his results by being very quick and agile, and by being smart and able to anticipate play. We know that the latter trait is something the Leafs have really looked for in their draft picks in the recent past, and Östlund seems to have it in spades.

Despite being the center, and entering this season with the most hype out of his two linemates: Liam Öhgren and Jonathan Lekkerimäki, his season didn’t seem as strong as the other two. Lekkerimäki got more time in the SHL, and put up a good amount of points compared to the other two. Öhgren played almost as many games in the SHL, and while he didn’t have the same points at the pro tier he did set records with his U20 production this year.

So Östlund wound up seeming like the third fiddle, instead of the straw that stirred the drink for the three. And while I do like the other two more as prospects, that shouldn’t take anything away from Östlund. At the World U18s, Lekkerimaki may have had more points, but at the start of the tournament when Sweden was upset by Latvia in their first game and losing to Sweden after periods, it was Östlund who looked like the only bright spot. He is who got the team going, and was consistently excellent the whole tournament.

Let’s see what some of the public scouting outlets have to say.

From Will Scouch:

Östlund possesses some of the quickest and tightest edges and turns in the draft, able to navigate tight spaces and find escape options well. He combines that with excellent anticipatory thinking, and I caught him essentially daring opponents to make mistakes using his positioning, causing turnovers and showing strong awareness to try and create chances out of them. Opponents will try to hem him in, but he’ll use his hands to quickly move pucks to safety, and those strong turns to completely shift his view of the ice and make safe plays to maintain possession.

As a centre, if he’s got time and space, he can generate speed quickly in various different skating situations, even skating straight forward and brings natural pace to the game that will catch anyone’s attention. He’s got the quickness and footspeed to close gaps quickly, which put him 7th in defensive transition involvement for a forward in my dataset with a relatively strong 39% DCZT%.

From Elite Prospects:

At his best, Östlund is a dynamic, shifty playmaker who takes full advantage of the width of the ice to build passing sequences. A dextrous distributor with the full array of reach-adjusted passes and the keen eye to find options through traffic, he was the most prolific setup-man in the entire Swedish junior circuit.

“Östlund is undoubtedly the sharpest player on Sweden’s U18 roster and likely rates among the top-five in this draft for hockey sense period,” Elite Prospects Swedish regional scout Jimmy Hamrin wrote in a pre-U18s profile of Östlund. “He is the glue that holds his teams together. He plays with strong puck support, drives play, and has a high motor.”

From Scott Wheeler:

Östlund’s calling card is his airy, agile skating stride, excellent hands, cleverness, and two-way ability. The skating and defensive aptitude (including on faceoffs) make him an able penalty killer and the rest give him clear tools of creation at five-on-five and on the power play. He wins a ton of short races, creates quickly as soon as he’s in possession, and darts around the ice in control to get into scoring areas or facilitate from the perimeter. His lack of size and strength are definitely going to be impediments as he progresses up levels, but he’s got the benefit of time, his skating, and the fondness coaches have for him to fall back on.

He’s silky smooth in possession (grades out at the very top of the draft in that regard), which makes him one of the very best puck transporters through neutral ice in the draft. There’s some risk that comes with selecting him but he’s got a slippery quality that few players in this range have, the puck just sticks to him in tight coverage, and he is a catalyst on his line in a variety of ways.

The history of Pension Plan Puppets’ SB Nation NHL Mock Draft selections:

2022: Noah Östlund (25th) (Stay tuned on July 7th)

2021: None

2020: William Wallinder (15th) (Rodion Amirov)

2019: None

2018: We traded the 25th overall pick in a package for Wayne Simmonds (Traded down for Rasmus Sandin)

2017: Eeli Tolvanen (17th) (Timothy Liljegren)

2016: Auston Matthews (1st) and Sam Girard (30th) (Auston Matthews, traded away for Frederik Andersen)

2015: Mitch Marner (4th) and Daniel Sprong (24th) (Mitch Marner, traded down)

2014: Nikolaj Ehlers (8th) (William Nylander)

2013: Nikita Zadorov (21st) (Frederik Gauthier)