14. Marcus Hogberg (Reader Rank: 13, Last Year: 7)
Oh what a difference a year makes. Marcus Hogberg took a tumble down our rankings, falling from 7th all the way to 14th this year. When he arrived in North America at the start of last season, there were high hopes for the Swedish net-minder who was taken 78th overall in the 2013 entry draft. Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine a worse campaign than what unfolded in 2017-18.
Hogberg found himself in the midst of a surplus of minor league goalies to begin the season, as he competed for playing time with Chris Driedger and Danny Taylor; the latter of which was brought in to presumably provide stability and a safety blanket for coach Kurt Kleinendorst who was loathe to trust the youngster between the pipes. And in case you’d all forgotten The Artist Formerly Known as the Hamburglar, who was at this stage persona nongrata in Ottawa, also somehow found his way to 18 appearances for Belleville — including several after his rights were traded to Colorado! The final injustice, from Hogberg’s point of view, was the acquisition of Filip Gustavsson as part of the Derick Brassard trade. Gustavsson was immediately presented with the opportunity to play in the AHL, and the mere act of the Sens trading for him probably tells you how the organization views Hogberg’s season. All in all, Hogberg ended up playing almost as many games in the ECHL for the Brampton Beast, which sounds like a waking nightmare, as he did for the Belleville Senators.
At the same time, Hogberg didn’t cover himself in glory when given the opportunity to do so in the AHL. His .899 all-situations save percentage across his 18 appearances just wasn’t going to hack it under any circumstances, even those as difficult as what he experienced. Several of the scribes who follow Belleville closest, including Peter Levi for Eye on the Sens and our own Spencer Blake, remarked on his erratic play over the course of the year. Hogberg is a big man that covers a lot of the net, but he seemed to chase the play at times last season. I’m no one’s idea of a goalie expert but when enough people all echo some version of the same “his positioning wasn’t good enough” comment, there might be some truth to it.
It wasn’t all pain and misery, however. Hogberg certainly had his moments, and he faced an absolute barrage of shots in both Belleville and Brampton. The indispensable @SensProspects pulled together a highlight video for Hogberg below:
Hogberg’s in a difficult position entering this season, and if he’s going to impress the Sens’ brass he’s going to need to do it immediately, but there’s also plenty of reason to believe he might be capable of more than he showed last year. His numbers in the Swedish Elite League were stellar before he came over, and there’s no denying that the physical tools are all there. Of the players outside of our top 10, he’s the one that for me probably has the best chance of greatly exceeding his current projection. Besides, it’s not like the Sens couldn’t use all the help they can get at the NHL level. A surprise breakout season from their “forgotten” Swedish goalie prospect might be just what they need.