Could the Calgary Flames gamble early on Danish forward Oscar Fisker Molgaard?

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
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In every draft class, there’s always a player or two that you hear mentioned in the first round mix that doesn’t seem to be a sure-fire first-rounder, but is touted as somebody who could be a great player. Over at Daily Faceoff, our pal Steven Ellis has touted Danish forward Oscar Fisker Molgaard quite a bit, calling him potentially one of the big steals of the draft.
Let’s take a look at Molgaard’s case for being a first round selection.

Scouting report

A product of Denmark, Molgaard is a February 2005 birthday. He’s a left shot forward who primarily plays centre and is listed at 6’0″ and 165 pounds.
Molgaard spent much of his youth hockey playing at various levels in Denmark, mostly in the Frederikshavn system. He moved to Sweden’s HV71 organization in 2021-22, probably in an effort to challenge himself – all due respect to Danish hockey, but Sweden’s junior leagues are at a higher level. He made his pro debut in 2022-23, playing 41 games with HV71 in the Swedish Hockey League.
At Dobber Prospects, Alexa Potack compiled this scouting report:
Mølgaard’s rapid learning and adaptation to SHL hockey has quickly moved him toward the top of many lists, including ours. What stands out most about Mølgaard was his ability to match intensity and physicality, despite often being smaller than his opponents. He is intelligent on and off the puck, knowing when to engage, where to be, and how to attack. He wins a significant number of battles along the boards, mostly by utilizing his quick maneuvers to the inside. Mølgaard’s 7 SHL points this season are respectable, but his professional-level scoring ability once again comes down to his desire to get involved in high-intensity plays. Most of his goals scored in any league this season were accomplished by battling net-front for loose pucks or deflections. He served this role well on his teams, though he only recorded 17 shots on goal the entire season, the lowest of any forward that played more than 25 games with the club in 2022-23.
As part of Smaht Scouting’s final rankings, SpokedZ wrote this assessment:
Simply put, Oscar Fisker Mølgaard needs to be talked about a whole lot more than he is right now. The 6’0” 165 lb center didn’t leave his home country of Denmark for Sweden until the 2021-22 season, and less than 18 months later he found himself centering the second line on HV71’s SHL squad. Fisker Mølgaard is a highly intelligent, hardworking center who displays an advanced understanding of inside play both offensively and defensively. He’s a strong skater and is constantly in motion, scanning and surveying the ice in front of him. Despite his slight frame, he’s capable of winning puck battles vs. players far bigger and heavier than he is due to his high compete level and tenacity. Though the tools and flashes of playmaking are apparent and intriguing, it’s unclear just how much point production there will be at the NHL. The playmaking can be inconsistent and he doesn’t boast an NHL calibre shot to this point. There are questions about just how much offensive upside there is at the next level, and that may be a deciding factor in whether he hears his name called on day 1 or day 2. Still, the recent upward trajectory and the high-end tools make him an intriguing player to track as we get closer to June.
There’s a lot to like about Molgaard. Are there risks? Sure! He’s still developing and he’s played relatively low amounts of high-end hockey against his peer group (from an age perspective). But Ellis’ assessment is pretty straight-forward: “…the smart, controlled centre could end up becoming one of the biggest steals of the draft given his pro-ready tools.” That certainly sounds like a potentially worthwhile gamble.

The numbers

Molgaard played a lot of hockey in 2022-23.
He played 21 games for HV71’s junior team in the J20 Nationell, Sweden’s top junior league. He had six goals and 17 assists for 23 points.
He played 41 games for HV71’s SHL team, his first-ever pro outings. He had four goals and three assists for seven points.
He also represented Denmark in three high-end international events sanctioned by the IIHF:
  • He had 12 points in five games in the Division 1A men’s Under-18 Worlds. Denmark finished second in the tournament, narrowly missing promotion to the top division. He was Denmark’s top player and led the division in points.
  • He had three points in five games in the Division 1A World Juniors. Denmark finished fifth in their division, narrowly avoiding relegation to Division 1B.
  • He had zero points in six games in the men’s World Championships. Denmark finished fifth in their pool, missing the medal round but sitting comfortably far from relegation.

Availability and fit

Under Brad Treliving, the Flames prioritized blueliners and centres when building out the team. Craig Conroy probably has some similar feelings, but the club likely goes for best player available rather than emphasizing a specific positional need. Molgaard is a toolsy centre who’s of medium stature, which ticks a lot of boxes for them.
His relatively small high-end sample size could pose some challenges, as he’s only played in high-end Swedish hockey for two seasons (compared to much longer in some other cases), and he’s only appeared in the secondary international tournaments – the Division 1A World Juniors and men’s Under-18s – rather than the top division, which hampers some comparisons to other high-end prospects.
Molgaard is ranked as a first-rounder by some major public lists – 28th by Smaht Scouting, 28th by Elite Prospects and 23rd by Dobber prospects – but generally he’s seen as a second-rounder by the scouting consensus. Reading the various assessments of his game, he would be seen as a bit of an off-the-board gamble when the Flames select at 16th overall, but he would be seen as a fairly big coup if he somehow lasted to their second pick at 48th overall. (He feels like a player a team with multiple early picks grabs at their second go-around at the podium after taking a “safer” pick earlier on.)

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