Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Helge Grans.
Swedish defenceman Helge Grans split his year between the Malmo Redhawks in the SHL and playing for their junior team in the Swedish J20 league. As a 17-year-old playing in Sweden’s top men’s league, his minutes and thus his impact was limited. He put up one goal and two assists for three points in 21 games. In 27 games in the junior league, Grans scored four goals and 23 assists for 27 points. He finished with the most assists by a defenceman in the J20 South League. He also added one assist in five games at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, winning a bronze medal.
In 2018-19, Grans played five games in the SHL as a 16-year-old. He also appeared in two games in the Champions Hockey League. He put up four goals and six assists for 10 points in 11 games at the Under-18 level. Grans also scored five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 34 games in the Under-20 league. Grans also appeared on the international stage. He put up two assists in six games at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, helping the Swedish team to win a bronze medal.
Helge Grans Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born May 10th, 2002 — Ljungby, Sweden
Height 6’2″ — Weight 183 lbs [188 cm/83 kg]
Grans skating really helps him to play a strong two-way game. He has very good edgework and agility. This allows him to cover the ice in any direction, and quickly move in any way, all 360 degrees. He also has smooth pivots, allowing him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Grans has a strong lower body and good balance, this helps him to play a physical game along the boards and clear the front of the net. He will be even better in these aspects as he continues to get stronger and mature. Grans speed in both directions is above average, but he is not a burner. His acceleration is also decent. This allows him to keep up with the play.
Grans shows calm and patience with the puck on his stick. In the offensive zone, he usually makes the safe, solid play to keep the puck moving and maintain possession. He is able to use his agility to walk the line and to open up some passing and shooting lanes. However, Grans is not the type of player that makes a lot of creative plays that will lead to scoring opportunities for teammates at the next level. He has the vision and passing skill to make the pass if it is there, but he isn’t going to take chances to create the opportunity. In transition, he usually makes a good first pass up the ice and then sits back and plays it safe while his teammates attack. He is not one to rush up the ice often.
Grans is more likely to use his wrist shot than his slap shot from the point. His shot has decent power, and by using the wrist shot he gets it off faster and avoids having his shot blocked. His slap shot could use a bit more power though. This may come as he continues to bulk up.
Grans is very good defensively. His strong lateral movement and good balance make him very hard to beat one-on-one. He maintains good gap control and if a forward gets himself into the wrong position, Grans can deliver a big hit. He stays disciplined though, as Grans does not get out of position looking for those hits. Grans is effective at cutting down passing lanes with his long stick and his size. He is also willing to put his body on the line to block shots. One area that will need to be improved though is that he can sometimes be inconsistent in moving the puck. He will make the occasional bad giveaway and needs to clean this up going forward. Grans battles hard on the boards and in front of the net. This is an area he can improve in as he gets stronger.
Projection and Comparison
Grans’ size and defensive ability make him an intriguing prospect. He will likely spend another season or two in Sweden, taking on more responsibility in the SHL. He is also likely to be one of the more important defensive defenders for Sweden at next year’s World Junior Championships. Grans could grow into a defender who can play big minutes at the NHL level but does not really have the offensive talent to be a premier defender. Rather he could be a steady complement to a team’s number one defenceman if he reaches his potential. Grans game is reminiscent of Marc-Edouard Vlasic but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Helge Grans that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Helge Grans Main Photo courtesy Malmo Redhawks.