Norwegian blueliner Stian Solberg is a dark horse first-round possibility in the 2024 NHL Draft

Photo credit:Kenneth Myhre/Valerenga
Ryan Pike
9 days ago
This article is brought to you by bet365.
In many recent entry drafts, there’s been a first-round selection that made casual draft followers go “Wait, who?” But in every draft class, there’s a player whose performance late in the regular season or in a key international tournament vaults them into the first round conversation.
In the 2024 NHL Draft class, one player whose late-season play may land him in the first round is Norwegian blueliner Stian Solberg.

Scouting report

Solberg is a product of Oslo, Norway, and he’s a December 2005 birthday – that puts him on the older side among first-time draft eligible players in the 2024 class. He’s a left shot defenceman listed at 6’2″ and 201 pounds.
As a strong prospect in a country with a fair lean domestic feeder system, Solberg has played well above his age group for awhile. In 2019-20, he played as a 14-year-old in Norway’s under-16 league. He made his pro debut with Vålerenga in the EliteHockey Ligaen, Norway’s top domestic pro league, in 2021-22 as a 16-year-old
The 2023-24 season saw Solberg play the entire campaign in pro – as an 18-year-old – and have his most productive season to date. He also represented Norway at the World Juniors and the World Championships.
In February, here’s how Dobber Prospects’ Sebastian High evaluated Solberg:
Solberg flew onto our radar at the World Juniors, where he logged massive minutes for Norway. His defensive aggression has stood out consistently in our viewings, the Norwegian blue-liner enjoys playing a violent style of hockey which incentivizes opposing forwards to avoid his side of the ice on the rush. His on-puck decision-making has left room for refinement, but his flashes of offensive dare and shooting skill leave room for optimism that he can develop into an impactful two-way defenseman. While his physicality, defensive aggression, and upside as a rush defender stand out as key strengths, his massive role at the WJC gave him space to show off his ability to be both an offensive transition driver and a real goal-scoring threat. While the massive amounts of time and space in Norwegian pro hockey limits his ability to flash NHL-style offensive plays, we’ve seen enough of his tools, instincts, and defensive habits to justify a top 55 ranking.
Over at Daily Faceoff, Steven Ellis had Solberg in the first round of his May rankings update following the World Championships:
Yeah, I slept on him too much this year. You don’t find a ton of Norweigan talents in the NHL Draft, but scouts really have come around on Solberg. He’s 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, something that has helped him play against men for the better part of the past three years. His best play, though, was at the IIHF World Championship, where he was Norway’s best defenseman by a longshot. He took some dumb penalties, but Solberg isn’t afraid to play on the edge and I like him for that. You can see the raw talent and the real defensive zone smarts that could allow him to thrive in North America.
TSN’s Craig Button also included Solberg in the first round of his May rankings:
The biggest riser on Button’s list is Norwegian defenceman Stian Solberg, who leaps from No. 44 to No. 15. Playing in Norway’s top professional league with Valerenga, the 18-year-old had five goals and 15 points in 42 games.
The 6-foot-2 defenceman represented Norway twice this season, notching two points in five games at the World Juniors before opening eyes at the men’s worlds with three points in seven games.
“Solberg is so smart, calm [and] smooth,” said Button. “A defenceman who can play big minutes, control the game, power play, penalty killing. He’s pushed himself right into that upper part of the first round.”
Solberg’s got size, smarts and skill. And he’s played against grown men since he was 16. If you’re an NHL club, you could see his body of work and ask yourself “imagine what he could do with upgraded teammates.” We’ll get a chance to do that next season, as he’s signed with Farjestads BK of the Swedish Hockey League for the 2024-25 campaign.

The numbers

Solberg had five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 42 games with Vålerenga in Norway’s top pro league. Only two under-20 players had more points than Solberg: Martin Johnsen and Emil Kvernmo Wasenden, who are both over a year older than him.
Solberg represented Norway in two major tournaments. He had a goal and an assist at the Worlds Juniors, and added two goals and an assist at the World Championships. Norway didn’t do great at either tournament; they were relegated from the championship division at the World Juniors (losing to Germany in overtime) and finished 11th (of out 16 teams) at the Worlds.

Availability and fit

Solberg’s got size, skill, smarts, and has shown progression. And while the Flames have addressed their defensive depth issues with a ton of additions over the past year, adding somebody with the potential upside of someone like Solberg could be pretty exciting. We say “potential,” because Solberg has yet to play in a league that has a reliable track record of producing NHLers – there have been a lot of exciting Norwegians over the past while, but not many have truly popped as NHLers quite yet. There’s some risk/reward calculation that needs to be done with him, but if you’re a team with a lot of picks – like the Flames or perhaps Utah – you might be willing to roll the dice.
Depending on when the ranking was compiled, Solberg has appeared in a lot of different spots. He’s generally shown up as a second-rounder on most rankings. But, as mentioned, his performances late in the season have given his stock a boost, so folks like Ellis, Button and The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler have him in their first-round mixes. Solberg’s a bit of a wild-card in 2024’s first round. We’re not sure precisely where he could go, or when.

Check out these posts...