Vasili Podkolzin excelled at the Four Nations Under-20 Tournament in Perm, Russia this weekend, but somehow was held without a single point. Two other Canucks prospects, however, managed to hit the scoresheet with a goal each.
Nils Höglander and Arvid Costmar, picked in the second and seventh rounds of the 2019 draft, respectively, were both on the Swedish roster and are each looking to earn a spot on Team Sweden for the 2020 World Junior Championships. Höglander’s spot seems pretty safe, given he was one of the final cuts at last year’s tournament, while Costmar is on the bubble.
Even if Costmar doesn’t earn a spot, he’ll have another year of eligibility for the World Juniors, while this will be Höglander’s last opportunity since he turns 19 in December.
It wasn’t a great tournament overall for Sweden, who lost all three games while getting outscored 11-6. Fortunately for Sweden, there are no negative consequences whatsoever, beyond what it might mean for individual players looking to make the World Junior team.
Sweden fared best against Finland, who seemed to treat the tournament in a similar manner to Sweden, as an opportunity to evaluate players and see where they might fit on the roster, whereas Czechia and Russia seemed a little more intent on winning the tournament itself. Höglander and Costmar both scored their only goals of the brief tournament in the 6-5 overtime loss to Finland.
Unfortunately, Costmar’s goal will remain unseen, as the YouTube stream of the game cut out inconveniently for the final few minutes of the first period. That’s when Costmar tied the game 1-1 from Axel Andersson. We’ll just have to imagine that it was a very nice goal.
We don’t have to imagine Höglander’s goal, thankfully. While you can watch (almost) the entire game in the link above, we also have this lovely highlight package of Höglander’s best moments against Finland, put together by Daniel Gee.
Höglander is a cinch to spot in these videos thanks to his bright green gloves from playing for Rögle BK in the SHL, but he can also be recognized by the number 21 on his back.
Höglander’s goal at around 1:10 is truly something special. He took a pass in the middle of the ice, tucked it behind his leg and kicked it back up to his stick to get around the Finnish defender. That gave him a clear path to the net and he moved to the backhand to evade another defender and elevated the backhand past the goaltender’s glove.
He has a handful of other notable moments thanks to his quick hands, smart positioning, and creative play.
Costmar, unfortunately, had a moment to forget in overtime, as his drop pass in the offensive zone turned the puck over to Finland and he wasn’t able to get back in time to prevent the gamewinning goal.
While he had less room to maneuver against Russia, Höglander still had his moments, including some fancy dangles that frequently incorporated his skates.
You can see a decent amount of Costmar, wearing number 27, in the video against Russia, as they were placed on a line together, along with Nikolas Pasic, a seventh-round pick of the New Jersey Devils. Costmar and Höglander also played on the power play together, where it appeared Höglander scored at around 1:11 of the video, with Costmar getting the secondary assist. Höglander’s stick, however, was extremely above the crossbar, and the goal was rightly disallowed.
Costmar and Höglander started the game against Czechia on a line together as well, but they didn’t last. Halfway through the game they were split up, with Höglander joining Nils Aman and Jonatan Lundin Andersson.
Czechia played a hard-checking game and things got nasty on occasion after the whistles, with the refs frequently sending two players off with coincidental minors to make things 4-on-4. Höglander seemed to like the extra ice in those situations, as he was tightly checked for most of the game.
Höglander struggled to get the puck into dangerous areas against Czechia, but still had some nice moments. The best scoring chance he created was unfortunately squandered by Costmar.
It comes at around 1:40 in the above video, as Höglander tries to create space with his skating on the power play. He ends up down low below the goal line, slaps his stick repeatedly on the ice for the puck, then makes a fantastic one-touch pass to Costmar at the top of the left faceoff circle. Costmar winds up for the one-timer with the goaltender on the move, but he whiffs on it, heeling the puck between his skates instead.
Unfortunately, this just wasn’t Costmar’s night. That power play shift ended with Costmar taking a bad penalty in the neutral zone, dragging his stick on a Czech skater and tripping him up. Czechia scored on the subsequent power play.
Costmar had some nice moments, particularly with his passing on the breakout, but he struggled to create anything offensively. He and Höglander were reunited late in the game when Sweden pulled the goaltender and Costmar did get a shot off the right wing, but couldn’t convert.
Overall, there was a lot to like about Höglander’s game at the Four Nations Tournament and it seems clear he’ll be an offensive catalyst at the World Junior Championships. Costmar showed enough with his two-way game to still be in consideration for the team, as he worked hard down low defensively and was decent in the faceoff circle. Whether Costmar makes the team may depend on how he starts the season with Linköping, either in the Under-20 league or the SHL.