15. Marcus Hogberg (Reader Rank: 14, Last Year: 14)
Marcus Hogberg’s career in the Senators organization has been as fascinating as any. He started as the up and coming Swedish goalie who was a bona fide starter in the SHL as a teenager and young 20-something. He was held in such high regard that just two years ago he came in at #7 in these same rankings. What happened next was fairly typical of young, European goalies who make their way to North America - he faltered. His first professional season as an official member of the Senators organization was quite rocky and some may have started to lose some hope. Then he started to turn things around and, before we knew it, he was starting almost every game for a red hot Belleville Senators group on the verge of their first franchise playoff appearance. On top of that, he was named Belleville’s most valuable player by the coaching staff and front office at the end of the season. Following his stellar year, Hogberg is now the Belleville franchise leader in wins, goals against and save percentage.
: Marcus Hogberg turned aside 31 of 32 shots on the night, none finer than this sequence. Giving his team a chance to win each outing, the 24-year-old owns a 1.18 GAA and .956 SV% over his last five starts. pic.twitter.com/vNyORDy8Ja— Joel Vanderlaan (@Joelvanderlaan) April 4, 2019
It’s one thing for a player to be the most valuable for his team but it’s another to take a look at their stats and see how they fare relative to the league. This past season, Hogberg ranked fifth (SV%) and second (GAA) in the AHL for goalies who started at least half of their team’s games. Any time you can have a goaltender that’s, more often than not, going to let in less than three goals a game, you have a chance to win - and that’s what Hogberg did for Belleville every game this season. You can thank many people for Belleville’s success this year - Drake Batherson and Logan Brown for their offensive prowess, Troy Mann for his deployment - but Hogberg has to be at the top of the list.
At this point, you may be asking yourself why Hogberg dropped a spot from last season, despite the improvement in his game. The simple answer is that the Senators’ prospect and young NHL player pool is a lot deeper than it once was. So while Hogberg sits at #15, fans should still be excited about what he could be capable of at the NHL level.
What’s next for Hogberg will be what’s most interesting. After dealing Mike Condon to the Tampa Bay Lightning in July, the Sens front office cleared a bit of space in the crowded crease in Ottawa’s system. Now there are only five goaltenders vying for the four spots between Ottawa and Belleville. Craig Anderson and Anders Nilsson will certainly start the season in Ottawa while Hogberg, Filip Gustavsson and Joey Daccord will fight for the two spots in Belleville. After his performance last season, Hogberg has a hold on Belleville’s starting position and will be the first goalie recalled when Ottawa needs some help.
As his contract turns into a one-way deal at the start of the 2020-21 season, all eyes will be on the Örebro native heading into 2019-20 to see if he can play his way into a major role with the NHL team.