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2020 NHL Draft prospect profile: Helge Grans — High risk, high reward

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The defenceman tends to make big plays, but not all of them go in his team’s favour.

Malmö’s General Manager Patrik Sylvegård welcomes Helge Grans to the senior team.
Malmö Redhawks

There is much to like about Helge Grans. His offence, built around his puck-moving ability, is what stands out. He can draw in opponents in his own end in order to deceive them, thereby creating opportunities for his teammates with more space and new lanes to attack through. He draws in forecheckers and uses his vision and skilled hands to distribute passes with accuracy. This is something that creates a good foundation and will translate well as he moves up the professional ranks.

Date of birth: May 10, 2002
Shoots: Right
Position: Defence
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 192 lbs.
Team: Malmö Redhawks (SHL)

He is a high risk, high reward kind of player who takes chances, and when he draws in defenders he sometimes loses track of other opponents and get overwhelmed, losing the puck and creating chances against.

Playing on a team that struggled all through the season, be it with the Swedish U18s, Malmö’s U20s, or Malmö’s senior team, makes it difficult to gauge his level accurately. The question that arrises is what could he have done in a more controlled environment, one in which he didn’t have to take so much responsibility on his own shoulders.

Elite Prospects

Strengths

Grans’s skating is good and his hands are fast, and that lets him control the puck. Added to this is that he has some decent size for an 18-year-old, standing 6’3” and weighing in at 192 pounds. That leads to a good transition game as he can power up with the puck on his stick, and a forechecker rarely knows what will happen versus such a shifty player.

Weaknesses

In all competition to this point, he rates negatively in goal-differential category. Some of this is due to playing on underachieving teams, but a lot also has to do with him trying to do too much. For every great move he pulls off there’s one that impacts the team in a negative way. While you can point to the fact that he has the confidence to do something, even in the defensive zone, this is an area that Grans needs to show better judgement. Hopefully this will come with experience.

There is also the discrepancy with his shot. He has a fast, hard release, but during games it seems that he struggles to get it away at full power and in good situations. During practice it is on, if not the best shot on the team.

He tends to stay static on the blue line. He doesn’t find the screens nor the shooting lanes, which probably means that he hurries his shot and it becomes a miss rather than a hit. He was more successful when putting the puck toward the net, rather than getting both pace and placement right and thereby advertising his shot.

It probably comes down to confidence and practice, Grans seems to struggle with balancing power and aim. He needs to get a bit quicker and work on the mechanics.

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #19
Future Considerations: #20
Hockey Prospect: #65
McKeen’s: #39
McKenzie/TSN: #32
NHL Central Scouting: #6 (EU skaters)

Discussion

Grans’s hockey sense could be better, and as a defender he needs to be ale to evaluate the situation better. It may be a maturity thing. Having been bigger than most opponents in the Junior leagues, he probably hasn’t had to work as hard as the competition.

It seemed like he played smarter with Malmö in the SHL. The defensive lapses were not as common and he played with a bit of a safety net, which means that he has room to grow and that he seems to be learning from his mistakes. More importantly he showed that he can fit within a system. He rises to the occasion and when you surround him with good players, becoming the more serious player he needs to be.

Personally, this is a pick that I would stay away from. His lack of hockey IQ is something that bothers me. Grans seems to have the will to learn, and that makes him an intriguing player to watch. The prediction is for him to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the third in what I would consider a ‘swing for the fences’ kind of pick.

His size will make him a target for many teams, and he is a player who could pan out and become an offensive puck-moving defender, but he still has to mature quite a bit in regard to his hockey sense and learning from his mistakes.

If he can do that, he could end up the steal of the draft. If he doesn’t, he may never reach the NHL.


Frederik Dichow was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2019 NHL Draft. He will move on to the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL this season, but spent last year behind Grans on Malmö’s U20 team. Eyes On The Prize got the chance to ask the netminder a couple of quick questions about his teammate’s play.

”He is a very smart player,” Dichow said. “He is good in both defence and offence, and he comes in and gives 100% in games as well as in practice. Besides that, he is a great guy [in the locker room].”

As pointed out in the draft preview, Grans’s shot is a bit of a weakness. Dichow has another point of view after having spent a season facing it in practice.

”He probably had one of the best shots on the team last season, if not the best I should say. He has a good hard shot and a quick release.”