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The 2018 NHL Entry Draft is notable for the number of talented Swedes who will be drafted into the league. With players like Rasmus Dahlin and Adam Boqvist at or near the top of many draft boards, its obvious that the defenders are getting the bulk of the attention. However, we should not sell the forwards short as there are a number of talented one coming out of Sweden as well. One of those forwards is centre Oskar Back (sometimes written as Oscar).
Back comes from the Farjestad system, and even got his first taste of the SHL this past season. Playing in a men’s league is not easy for a 17-year-old, and Back was unable to record any points in 14 games, mainly with limited ice time. However, he had a very strong season at the U20 level. Back had 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 38 games. He also added two points in three playoff games.
Back has long been a member of Swedish national teams. He put up five points in six games as Sweden won the 2016-17 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. Back played in back to back IIHF Under-18s, being named a top 3 player on Sweden in 2017. He also won a bronze medal at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka.
Oskar Back Scouting Report
Center/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born March 12th, 2000 — Hammarö, Sweden
Height 6’2″ — Weight 192 lbs [188 cm/87 kg]
Back skates with a long, powerful stride. He generates good speed as well as strong acceleration. A quick first step helps him to win races to loose pucks, and he has the speed off the rush to take a defender wide and cut to the net. Back has good agility and edgework. He can make quick changes in direction to fool defenders. He needs to work on his core strength going forward. This will improve his balance and make him harder to knock off the puck. He can sometimes be overpowered along the boards.
Back is a solid playmaker. He has the vision and passing skills to put the puck through tight areas and create scoring chances. He uses his agility and changes of direction and pace to open up passing lanes on the rush. Back works well in the cycle game and has the patience to wait for teammates to get open. He is smart with the puck, and reads the play well.
Back has a good wrist shot, but does not use it enough. He looks to be a playmaker. His wrist shot is strong, accurate, and features a quick release. He could use some work on his one-timer though. When he gets to the net, he has the soft hands to score in tight. He is a hard worker who gets in quickly on the forecheck and creates turnovers. He also works for loose pucks along the boards, and to get to the net. However, Back needs to get stronger to be more effective.
Back works hard in the defensive zone, but still has some work to do before he is a good defensive player. He is strong in the face-off circle. He also is willing to support the defence down low and work in containing the cycle. This is another area where strength and balance would help him to contain bigger opponents. He also needs a bit of work on his positioning as he can seem lost at times. These are areas that he can develop with good coaching.
Projection and Comparison
Back is set to move to Karlskoga next year and play in the Swedish Allsvenskan. Playing against men at a slightly lower level than the SHL will likely be good for his development. He is a bit of a project and will need time before he is ready for the NHL. Expect to see him spend a year or two in Europe before coming over to the AHL to adjust to North American ice. Back has the potential to be an effective 2nd or 3rd line centre if his development goes well. His game is comparable to Riley Nash, but this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Oskar Back that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
PLYMOUTH, MI – FEBRUARY 15: Oskar Back #11 of the Sweden Nationals turns up ice with the puck against the Finland Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 15, 2018, in Plymouth, Michigan. Finland defeated Sweden 5-3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)