Back in March, a report surfaced from Darren Dreger of TSN that several teams around the NHL were pursuing SHL forward Joakim Nygard. At the time, the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators were listed as two of the potential destinations for the speedy winger. Now that the SHL season is over, Nygard is free to sign with whoever he chooses and both of those teams are out of the running. The free agent has signed a one-year entry-level deal with the Edmonton Oilers instead.
Nygard, 26, put up another excellent season with Farjestads in the SHL, posting 21 goals and 35 points. In fact, those 21 goals were good enough for second in the entire league behind only Columbus Blue Jackets top prospect Emil Bemstrom’s 23. That kind of offensive production is nothing new for Nygard, who has posted at least 29 points—a solid total in the 52-game SHL season—in three consecutive years.
If there is one thing that stands out in Nygard’s game, it is his incredible skating ability. Easily one of, if not the, best skaters in the SHL, he has drawn countless comparisons to Washington Capitals forward Carl Hagelin. While Hagelin is also scheduled to become a UFA this summer and is available to the whole league, he’s also going to turn 31 this summer and will likely come at a relatively higher price tag. Nygard however may be able to jump right into an NHL lineup on a cheap contract and provide some forward depth next season.
While Calgary was involved the whole way with Nygard, there is an obvious fit with the Oilers. Edmonton has been trying desperately to increase their team speed in order to keep up with Connor McDavid, and have a distinct lack of scoring options on the wing. Perhaps a chance to play with a back-to-back (and potential three-peat) Ted Lindsay Award winner was enough to turn the scales in Edmonton’s favor.