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The Habs will have to consider it: Brandsegg-Nygard is THE most underrated player in the top-20
Credit: Photo by BJORN LARSSON ROSVALL/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

This is already the third time this year that I’ve written about Michael Brandsegg-Nygard (MBN), Norway’s best-ever prospect and a player regularly ranked between 15th and 20th for the upcoming draft.

The first time was in January, following his very solid performance at the CMJ, which went completely under the media radar.

When MBN was on the ice, even Lane Hutson’s Americans, the tournament champions, struggled against his line.

He finished the tournament at +1, while Norway showed a collective differential of -19! That gives you an idea…

A month later, I ranked him 6th in my mid-season rankings, three places ahead of Iginla and far ahead of Connolly (11th), Eiserman (12th), Catton (14th) and Helenius (15th).

Today, I’m back at it again after watching his games at the World SENIOR Championship against Denmark, Finland and Canada.

Against Denmark and Finland, we saw again the dominant MBN of the World Junior. If anything, he looked even better. Here, he’s the one who starts the game with a backflip and ends it with a major-league ++ shot:

Heads up. Beautiful vision. Nice read. Quick. Improved skating technique. Fluid and powerful. Involved. Aggressive. Robust. Strong. Gamer. Good hands. Mature. Lucid on ice. Constant effort. Check-forward. Backcheck. Excellent over 200 feet. Accurate, lightning-fast wrist shot. Plays with aplomb at the point on the first power play unit. Etc.

Against Canada, of course, it was more difficult. Too strong, the Unifolié players controlled the game for long sequences and Norway had to make do with 6 shots on net… all recorded in the third period!

But Brandsegg-Nygard came through with flying colors, making a number of dangerous shot attempts, as well as some fine puck control.

Despite a nasty interception that led to a shorthanded goal for Canada, we also give high marks to his young teammate, the strong and mobile defenseman Stian Solberg – his team’s only scorer – who should catch the eye in the second round in June.

Returning to MBN, the dozen or so games I’ve seen of him lead me to Martin St-Louis’ simple expression: we’re talking about a real “HOCKEY PLAYER” here, not a “young man who plays hockey”.

And certainly not a troubled young man who plays hockey… #TrevorConnolly #ComeOnSnake

All in all, one wonders how this imposing 6’1 200 lb right-winger, who will be 19 next October, could miss out on a top-6 NHL finish?

For me, it’s ABSOLUTELY impossible.

He could play in the NHL as early as next year, no problem.

While he may be a little less talented, and his ceiling may be a little lower, MBN also has far fewer question marks than most of the names often mentioned in the top-15, or even top-10.

Would I go so far as to still rank him MBN ahead of Tij Iginla, another safe bet with few flaws?

I think so, even though they’re almost twins: one left-handed, the other right-handed…

I slightly prefer his 200-foot game, his intelligence with and without the puck, and MNB ‘s consistency from presence to presence. But he’s also almost a year older than Iginla, so it’s pretty tight…

A player to consider as early as 5th for the Tricolore?

So, am I telling you that the Habs should draft him5th?


That would be quite a surprise as we speak. Unless I’m mistaken, I’m pretty much the only analyst who even dares mention the idea! Marc Denis even suggested on Thursday that he might still be available for the Habs’ second first-round pick!

Forget it, Marc! If that happens, I’ll publicly apologize!

As the English say, don’t sleep on this player.

Still not one of Bob McKenzie’s top-15 players in May, his skill set is still so undervalued, it’s mind-boggling.

It’s high time MBN was rightly considered a top prospect for the next draft, and this World Championship could well mark his entry into the top-10 discussions, or even higher…

I’ll say it again, at the same age he’s clearly comparable to Filip Forsberg. Same league. Same stats. Same build. Same shot. Maybe a little less finesse, but a lot stronger.

You win with wingers like that.

If Brandsegg-Nygard were playing Canadian junior hockey, he’d have crushed everything in his path, racking up 50 goals and over 100 points in his draft year. He’d be in every top-10 imaginable.

So, yes, to answer the question, right now, if I were a Habs scout, I’d be advocating drafting him as early as No. 5 if Demidov and Lindstrom were already gone.

But I still have to wrap my head around Bennett Sennecke of the Oshawa Generals, unfortunately injured in the OHL final against London, but impressive for his physique (6’3), hands, shooting and puck possession. More on that later…


Many will no doubt have a field day on Facebook and Twitter, but who among those commenting negatively will have seen a game, or even five minutes of Brandsegg-Nygard?

All things considered, it was the same thing with Slafkovsky vs Wright, two years ago…

For now, all we know is that while Demidov, Lindstrom, Iginla and all the other contenders are on vacation, Brandsegg-Nygard, like Slafkovsky in 2022, is playing like a pro against pros at the World Senior Championship.

I don’t think he’ll fly under the radar again after this tournament…

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