Manor 2024 NHL Draft Preview: Forward Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, Norway

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An aspect in evaluating prospects involves looking at their home and lifestyle. Off-ice behavior and personality can be just as important as what they do when playing hockey. Most NHLers who come up through the ranks generally come from hockey hotbeds that make the sport ingrained in their culture.

With Los Angeles, there are a few players who come from backgrounds differing from the norm. Anze Kopitar was born in and grew up in Slovenia but played professional hockey in Sweden. Kevin Fiala, of Switzerland, made similar decisions for his career. Jordan Spence was born in Australia and lived briefly in Japan before relocating to Canada.

These unconventional backgrounds show people who are willing to commit to resources and a life that is more conducive to laying down an NHL path. This all ties in to the prospect featured in this article, who spent most of his life in Norway before playing against higher competition in Sweden.

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard

Vitals


Date of Birth: October 5, 2005
Height: 6-feet-1
Weight: 198 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Forward

2023-24 Season

Brandsegg-Nygard spent most of the season with Mora IK in HockeyAllsvenskan (the minor league equivalent of SHL). In 41 games, he has 18 points (8 G, 10 A).

Lead the Way in Norway

The Oslo-born forward participated in this year’s U-20 World Junior Championship, which is where players who have already been drafted get an opportunity to shine against their peers. Despite being less experienced than a larger majority of the participants, Bransdegg-Nygard led Norway with 5 points (3 G, 2 A) in as many games.

The Barrie-man

The Norwegian winger already had eyes on him from North America prior, as the Barrie Colts drafted him in the 2023 CHL Import Draft. Should he decide to cross the pond, playing junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League is an option.

For the History Books

The highest a Norwegian player was ever drafted was 42nd overall in 2002, when Dallas took Marius Holtet. Given his consensus rankings to go in the first round (more on that below), Brandsegg-Nygard would make history and be the first player born in Norway to be taken in the first round.

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

Ranked No 15 by Elite Prospects. A subsequent article wrote, “While Brandsegg-Nygård’s style leans heavily toward power, glimpses of impressive puck-handling skills and finesse as a passer also emerge. Notably, his transitional passing improved over the past year. He began to survey the ice more frequently prior to receiving the puck, alongside enhanced decision-making, although further refinements are conceivable in the future.”

Ranked No 16 by McKeen’s Hockey. “While the production hasn’t really come until recently, Brandsegg Nygård has been playing extraordinary hockey all year and has worked his way from the 4th line all the way up to the 1st. His team dominates possession whenever he’s on the ice. He injects any line he plays on with energy and intensity, and he never takes a shift off. He embodies Mora’s hi-tempo style with his physicality and forechecking prowess. He is inside driven, and he isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty in the corners. With his excellent hands and hockey sense, he can turn loose puck battles into scoring chances in an instant.

Just by watching him, you can easily project Brandsegg Nygård’s skillset to an NHL role. However, that has never really been up for debate. The real question surrounding his projection is his offensive/high end skill ceiling. He flashes it from time to time, manipulating defenders with body fakes, hesitations, drag-through moves, and more. At the start of the year, it felt like such a fringe part of his game that it was difficult to accurately factor into his overall projection. However, as the year has progressed and as he has acclimated himself to the pace of HockeyAllsvenskan play, the fine skill has become more of a real asset to Brandsegg Nygård’s game and has elevated his projected ceiling from a “defensive winger” to a legitimate Top 6 power winger. If he stays on the same trajectory, he could very well find himself within the top ten (or higher) on most scouts’ lists come draft day.”

Ranked No. 16 by The Hockey News. They wrote, “Brandsegg-Nygård might be one of the most complete players in the upcoming 2024 NHL Entry Draft. While some players usually have one strength with their offensive game that stands out to many scouts, he has several strengths and doesn’t neglect any of them. It also helps that he is viewed as one of the strongest defensive-minded forwards in the upcoming draft, so translating his game from Europe to North America shouldn’t be too difficult.”

See For Yourself

Here is a video of Michael Brandsegg-Nygard playing against Slovakia in the 2024 WJC:


Sometimes, talent can be found in unconventional places. Kopitar was ranked as a top-five pick by almost all independent scouting services back in 2005, yet he fell to Los Angeles at 11th overall, no doubt in part to being from Slovenia. His ability to adjust to playing professional hockey in Sweden notwithstanding, his origins raised enough questions that he fell until he couldn’t fall anymore. With Brandsegg-Nygard, who is ranked in the teens, there is a possibility he may fall to Los Angeles. In the event that happens, would he be worth a pick? Why or why not?

Breaking down his style of play, he is a two-way winger who also was used as a point shot on the powerplay. While some reports categorize the Norwegian as a power forward, there are inconsistencies in physical engagement. Instead of driving through the opposition, he finds seams in traffic to carry the puck. His work along the boards and building strength could use room for improvement, which would build upon his 6-foot-1, 198-lb frame.

Brandsegg-Nygard has solid skating mechanics. While not a speedster, he has solid separation speed that he utilizes when catching the opposition off-guard. The center of gravity makes things difficult when trying to knock him down. As far as room for improvement here, he could stand to improve his agility and lateral movement. When challenged from a standing position, he opts to dish the puck elsewhere – one of the reasons he works very well as a powerplay quarterback is the additional time to make decisions with the puck. Nonetheless, it’s one less tool he has to get himself out of trouble.

His puck moving decisions ties into one of the strong elements of his game though: hockey sense. While agility is a limitation, his cognition of the situation allows him to find safer options with the puck, as opposed to trying to do too much. A very important trait, particularly in high-skill players, is knowing the line of when to stop trying to do everything themselves; use the boards, find a teammate, move the puck in deeper, or simply take a shot. Brandsegg-Nygard uses his momentum and finds open lanes to create chances, but doesn’t put himself in a corner.

That sense also extends to the defensive zone. As he plays the point on the powerplay, there are times he’s confronted with the opposition getting a break and going the other way. He takes the appropriate angles to try to catch up and neutralize the player. In the video linked above, his ability to anticipate Slovakia’s play in Norway’s zone led to him taking away the puck and scoring a goal.

This leads, ultimately, to his strongest trait: his shot. There’s a combination of precision and power that makes every shot lethal. Even when the goaltender makes a save, Brandsegg-Nygard’s shot is difficult to handle and swallow in, which generates rebounds.

Player comparisons should always be applied with caution, because it leads to unrealistic expectations. However, to help give an idea of who he plays like, Adrian Kempe would be appropriate style-wise. For a mid to late first, that’s a great prospect that would find its way on most rosters as a depth forward at the very least. There’s a decent chance the Norwegian forward will be taken before the Kings pick – but it’s worked out quite well when players from unconventional backgrounds fall to their laps against all odds.

Chat with David: You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.




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