Montreal Canadiens: Mattias Norlinder Earns League Recognition For Strong Play in Sweden

VICTORIA , BC - DECEMBER 29: Team Sweden celebrates following an overtime win versus the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championships at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on December 29, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
VICTORIA , BC - DECEMBER 29: Team Sweden celebrates following an overtime win versus the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championships at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on December 29, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /
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The Montreal Canadiens have done well at the past few NHL Drafts. One player they selected in the middle rounds was Mattias Norlinder. He just won an award in Sweden for his strong play.

The Montreal Canadiens have clearly shifted their focus in the past two years. They have started stockpiling draft picks and adding as many young players at the NHL Draft as they possibly can. The NHL Draft quickly becomes a lottery after the top picks go off the board.

You can be reasonably sure you are getting a great player with the first few picks, but even in the second round it is hard to know what you are getting. This is why adding as many draft picks as you can and just throwing darts at the board with your eyes closed isn’t a bad strategy.

The Habs have adopted this quantity strategy the past few years. In 2017, the Habs made seven draft picks in the seven round event. In 2016 they had six picks. In 2015 they made only five choices as they were moving out picks for depth players at the trade deadline.

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In 2018 things changed and suddenly they made 11 choices at the draft. Last year they picked another ten players. This year, they hold 14 draft picks as they prepare to host the annual event in June. That’s an average of two picks in every round which is incredible. Some of these later picks are sure to hit, right?

One of them, Mattias Norlinder, sure looks like a keeper already. He was taken in the third round of last year’s draft after the Habs moved a late second round pick for the 64th and 126th picks. Quantity over quality outside the second round makes a lot of sense.

Norlinder has proven to be an excellent choice in the third round. He plays for Modo in Allsvenskan which is basically the AHL of Sweden. He is still 19 years old and had a great season, scoring seven goals and 17 points in 33 games. He has helped Modo become one of the top teams in Allsvenskan and they are now in the playoffs where the top two teams will be promoted to the Swedish Hockey League next season.

Modo finished with a record of 34-12-4, which puts them in second place heading into the playoffs. It is great to see such a young player like Norlinder finding an important role on one of the best teams in the league.

Norlinder has impressed all season with his skating skills and willingness to jump into the play offensively. He was rewarded for his strong play this season by being named the “Golden Cage” winner which is awarded to the top Junior aged player in Allsvenskan every year.

The Kramfors, Sweden native was rewarded for his stellar play earlier this season when he was asked to play for his country at the World Juniors. Sweden had a deep crop of defenders as they have been churning out first round picks who are defensemen for years. It was a bit of a surprise to see Norlinder named to the team, but he played well during the tournament and winning a trophy in Allsvenskan is further proof of his ability.

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Norlinder is likely to play another year in Sweden and hopefully it will be in the Swedish Hockey League where he will face even tougher competition. If he continues his strong play, he can help ensure Modo returns to the SHL. After another season in Sweden, who knows where he will play, but if he keeps this up it won’t be long before he is suiting up for the Montreal Canadiens.