Florida Panthers 20 under 21: #18 - Hugo Fagerblom

The countdown hits its first goaltender

For #19 on our countdown, the LBC crew chooses our first non-North American prospect: Hugo Fagerblom of Sweden.

#18 - Hugo Fagerblom- goalie- Frolunda HC (Sweden)

Highest rank: 18  lowest rank: 21

The Panthers selected Fagerblom in the seventh round (182nd Overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Certainly, the Cats were intrigued by the size of this Swede. Fagerblom had the size of an NHL goalie as he is 6’6” tall, and weighs in at 202 lbs. The talent analysis from that time is (at best)... intriguing (from Hockey’s Future):

Fagerblom has the size and frame of a prototypical NHL goaltender and has had some success at the U18 level in Sweden. Drafted directly out of the U18 league with little time competing in junior hockey nor at the international level, he has not faced the same level of competition as some of the other goalies in his draft class. But his success in domestic U18 play, along with his physical tools, caught the attention of Panthers' scouts. Fagerblom is still fairly raw as a prospect but should continue to develop as he gains experience.

In 2013-14, Fagerblom was paired in the top tandem in the Swedish Under-18 league, and the future looked interesting. But the tall Swede went off the rails last season in the Under-20 league.

The emerging issue is that Fagerblom, who is now 20-years-old, again split time last season with Victor Brattstrom, who badly outplayed the Panthers prospect. In 20 games with Frolunda HC J20 last season, Fagerblom posted a 3.74 GAA and a dismal .863 save percentage. In two playoff games for the team, things got worse, as his GAA was 6.23 and his save percentage slipped to a .776.

It would be easy to point at the team in front of him, but Brattstrom did not suffer similarly. In 27 games the “other” goaltender posted a 2.26 GAA, and .918 save percentage. In three playoff games Brattstrom put up a 2.93 GAA and .883 SV%. Further, the team was 5th in their division of the SuperElit league and went 14-3-10 (ties are recorded in the second column). Brattstrom (by the way) is an undrafted, 19-year-old goalie.

More bad news? Fagerblom finished dead last in the SuperElit league (for goalies who played more than 10 games) in save percentage, and 35th out of 39 goalies in GAA.

This June he was signed by Wings HC Arlanda, in the First Division, meaning he will play against men. He played four games in the First Division last year for Grastorps IK where he posted a 3.20 GAA and .910 SV% - slightly better. Still, the First Division is not the high-end league the Panthers may have hoped to see their prospect in, and that may have something to do with why he has not been signed to an entry-level deal yet.

If there is one word that is used in virtually every analysis of this Swede it is this: “raw.” The second thing that always pops up is: “size.” While Fagerblom is still young for goaltender development, he is also fading fast. This is why I had him at 21st on this list of Panther prospects. Nonetheless, goalies are a difficult lot to predict and a 7th round draft pick was never a strong bet for an NHL future. This, from the Hockey Writers is about the last positive “shine” we can put on Hugo:

The good news for the Florida Panthers is that goalies are probably the hardest position to predict in terms of success when it comes to prospects. Often, late round selections/undrafted keepers find success at professional levels.

Unless something unforeseen happens this season in Scandinavia, every indication is that the Panthers have their hopes pinned on Samuel Montembeault as a goalie of the future, with an eye on Evan Cowley, Colin Stevens, Ryan Bernard, and Sam Brittain as far more likely to be a pleasant surprise than this Swede.