While the 2019-20 NHL season may still be on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher continues to keep himself busy signing players named “Linus” from the SHL. After recently signing winger Linus Sandin, it was announced last Saturday that the team has signed Swedish defenseman Linus Hogberg to an entry-level contract. Fletcher also made the signing with little time to spare, as the Flyers’ rights to their fifth-round pick from 2016 were set to expire on Monday. The contract is set to begin in the 2020-21 season, so he would not be eligible to play for Philadelphia if they return to resume the 2019-20 season. He would not have been expected to dress or even play for that matter, but it is worth noting.
Hogberg has been a member of the Flyers’ farm system for four years now, so we have an extensive background on what he brings to the table. An under-the-radar prospect since he was drafted by former-GM Ron Hextall back in 2016, Hogberg has spent the past four seasons playing in the SHL for the Vaxjo Lakers. The 21-year-old defenseman is coming off of a solid season in the SHL, in which he scored 14 pts (5 goals, 9 assists) in 50 games, while playing almost 18 minutes per game on Vaxjo’s top pairing. With each season, Hogberg has steadily improved his games played, his point totals, and his ice time while retaining strong possession numbers with his increased responsibility. Hogberg possesses a unique skill set: he thrives in his own zone, but also contributes to creating shots and chances for his teammates in the offensive zone. Hogberg’s conservative style of play means you likely won’t find him on a highlight reel, but players of his mold are crucial to balance out a team’s more offensively-oriented defensemen.
Hogberg’s play has garnered praise from those who have closely observed his play. An assistant coach for the Vaxjo Lakers stated, “Linus is a mobile, modern D-man with good skating and good puck control, with his mobility he is good defensively…he is really good at getting the puck out of difficult situations with the puck.” Similarly, Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said of Hogberg, “He’s a puck-moving defenseman…he’s a strong skater, transitions the puck well, and that’s of value in today’s game…he doesn’t make many mistakes.”
With his signing, Hogberg will begin his North American career by joining fellow rookies Yegor Zamula and Wyatte Wylie on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ blueline next season.
Welcome to Philadelphia, Linus! We are happy to have you, and can’t wait to see you on the ice wearing orange and black!
Image credit to minHockey