Team Sweden is assembling a juggernaut blueline - at least looking ahead to future Olympics.
Over the past five NHL drafts, Sweden have produced six top-15 blueline picks - and may likely add a seventh next June in MODO gem Robert Hägg (pronounced 'haig', translation: cherry).
The native of Uppsala province, Sweden joined the MODO club in `10-11, also making his national team debut that season, and then graduated to the J20 squad in 2011-12 - notably as a 16-year-old (44-4-13-17).
Currently captain of MODO's J20 SuperElit team and among the top-scoring rearguards in the league (12-4-7-11), Hägg will have a prime opportunity to impress NHL scouts at the upcoming Under-18 Four Nations Cup in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Nov. 6-10).
It's really all that Sweden needs - another smart, skilled puckmover to join the likes of Hampus Lindholm (6th, `12), Adam Larsson (4th, `11), Jonas Brodin (10th, `11), Victor Hedman (2nd, `09), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6th, `09) and Erik Karlsson (15th, `08).
A group that will undoubtedly form the heart of Tre Kroner's defense at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Robert Hagg (D, 2013), MODO - a methodical, two-way defenseman; skilled and highly cerebral .. approaches the game not unlike New Jersey pick Adam Larsson in that he is able to control the tempo and speed of the game through the quality of his decision making .. his skating doesn't immediately impress - doesn't overwhelm with speed or explosiveness, yet he rarely loses the foot races thanks to a smooth, comfortable stride .. his pace is more based on being calculating and swift in his movements .. what sets him apart is an uncanny hockey sense that features a knack for being able to sense and react to pressure .. easily shakes off initial checking pressure and finds his outlets .. a strong, accurate passer - can make a blinding-fast first pass from anywhere on the ice, while his point shot is an absolute rocket .. does not shy away from physical contact either, as he will push back - and backed by astute positional sense .. supports the puck exceptionally well in all zones .. knows how to utilize his athletic good-sized frame (6-2/195) to productively create space and separation .. there is still some immaturity in his game however that will iron out as he gains experience .. must be cognisant of going overboard as he is prone to taking emotional, undisciplined penalties .. can handle the pace of a game when it intensifies - an attribute which makes him attractive as a potential universal, top-four NHL defenseman.