Helge Grans is the prospect the Flyers received in the Ivan Provorov trade. He’s the player who will be under the most critical gaze.
Grans has potential. The Flyers want to see when — and if — he can play in the NHL. He has skills. The 21-year-old Swedish defenseman was drafted 35th overall by the Kings in 2020.
He’s 6-foot-4, 205 pounds with a right-handed shot.
“No, unfortunately, I haven’t seen him play,” Flyers general manager Daniel Briere said after the trade on Tuesday.
“I had to rely on our scouts for him. I’m excited. He was a second-round pick, an early second-round pick, by the Kings.”
Grans was drafted 35th overall in the 2020 draft by the Kings. He seems ticketed to start next season in Lehigh Valley with the Phantoms but the Flyers will know more after their Developmental Camp in July.
Scott Wheeler, The Athletic’s hockey prospects expert, wrote in his 2022 NHL prospect pool rankings about Grans:
“The appeal of Grans has, in the past, been anchored in the legitimacy of his individual tools more than the sum of his parts. This season, though, he has really begun to put the pieces together [both in the AHL, where I’ve been impressed in all of my viewings, and briefly with Team Sweden].
“… Both mobile and talented. He’s comfortable with the puck. He has great hands for his size. He’s a superb passer on outlets and through offensive-zone lanes.
“And he’s at his best when he’s playing an aggressive style and taking risks to make things happen. There’s still some rawness to his even-strength play and he can look a little stilted on his pivots, but his game has started to take form and despite having played parts of four seasons at two top pro levels, he’s just still [young].
“Grans has the potential to be a top-four defenseman with significant two-way value. There’s a balance to be struck with his mistakes and some of that just comes with continued reps. I hope they encourage him to play a highly involved game, because that’s where his tools really shine. I’d rather see him looking to make things happen than playing passively.”
Before he was drafted, Elite Prospects said about Grans:
“He’ll walk the offensive blue line with the puck on his stick with relative ease; and he can mitigate risk while maintaining an aggressive, space-consuming posture when defending the defensive blue line.
“He skates well, has a long reach, an active stick, and good habits with his footwork.”
Grans spent the last two seasons with the Ontario Reign in the AHL. He had two goals and seven assists in 59 games this past season, and seven goals and 17 assists in 2021-22. He has played for Team Sweden in the U17, U18 and U20 age groups.
The Hockey Writers’ Dayton Reimer said about Grans before the 2020 draft:
“Grans’ biggest strength is his offensive skills. He was dominant with the Malmö Redhawks of the Swedish U20 SuperElit league this season, scoring 27 points in just 27 games.
“Despite playing at least 10 games less than his competition, he still was seventh in defensive scoring at the season’s end.
“He spent the rest of his time in the Swedish Hockey League, playing another 21 games with the men’s league Redhawks, gradually earning more minutes and coming away with a goal and two assists in 21 games.
“Although Grans proved he could be a regular in the Swedish men’s league, his full talent was on display in the junior league and gave scouts a good idea of his potential.
“He possesses incredibly soft hands when it comes to picking out teammates with long passes, but he also has the speed and skating ability to carry the puck up the ice himself into the offensive zone. To top it off, he also possesses good size … He was one of the biggest players on the U20 Redhawks while also being one of the youngest.”
In Grans’ end of the season interview in May, he said:
“I feel like, it’s been a bumpy year this year, lots of ups and downs with the team and with me as well. We need to try to get more consistent and so do I in my game as well.”
His Ontario Reign coaches had suggestions to improve his game.
“To work on my defense and my ability to make good plays all the time,” Grans said. “Just try to be more consistent and not make as many mistakes.”
Grans said he will return to Sweden in the offseason and prepare for next season.
“It’s a lot of work that’s gonna start right away,” he said. “It’s just getting my body as prepared as possible for next year.”
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