Day 4 of World Junior Diary: Get to Know Norway’s Greatest NHL Draft Class Ever

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard. Photo courtesy Tonni Paibjerg/Danish Ice Hockey Union Photo courtesy Tonni Paibjerg/Danish Ice Hockey Union

Göthenburg, Sweden – Michael Brandsegg-Nygard of Norway has been disappointed by not making it to the quarterfinals of the 2024 world juniors. That was the aim of his team, and although the Norwegians were not to be taken lightly, they failed to make the cut and were forced to play Germany in a single-elimination relegation match.
However, these world juniors have been a reason to celebrate Norway for those of us who approach the competition more mercenarily: The team has two outstanding NHL prospects that the world should be aware of in Brandsegg-Nygard and Stian Solberg.

We may actually be witnessing the greatest Norwegian draft class in history.

Now, it’s true that the bar for said accomplishment is low. Mats Zuccarello is the greatest Norwegian hockey player of all time. He joined the Rangers as a free agent to begin his illustrious career and was never selected in the draft. The highest position a player has ever been taken was 42nd overall, when Dallas selected Marius Holtet in 2002. The most Norwegians ever selected in a single draft are three (done in both 2008 and 1990).

Right winger Brandsegg-Nygard is a fast and dynamic player who should be selected in the first round this summer, and defenseman Solberg is a punishing player who should be selected in the top 100. Both have contributed significantly to Norway’s success at the world juniors, with Solberg finishing one point behind Brandsegg-Nygard in the standings and playing roughly 26 minutes a game.
The two have been teammates in the Valerenga organization since they were eleven years old.
“It’s the biggest team in Norway and the only big team in Oslo,” Solberg stated. “I’ve always watched the men’s team there and looked up to them, so it’s a pleasure to play there now.”

The two have been teammates in the Valerenga organization since they were eleven years old.
“It’s the biggest team in Norway and the only big team in Oslo,” Solberg stated. “I’ve always watched the men’s team there and looked up to them, so it’s a pleasure to play there now.”

Brandsegg-Nygard took his skills to Mora, Sweden, two years ago in search of more competitive environment. This season, he has primarily played for the professional team. He still has a special place in his heart for Valerenga, though, because his dad was a player there.

He pronounced it “loved.” Before moving to Mora, I was a player for Valerenga exclusively. It was fun to play there because family and friends would frequently stop by to watch.”

Though not in hockey, Solberg’s family was active as well: his mother was a runner and his father was a downhill skier. However, he added, their son has turned them into a hockey family.

Solberg is a huge fan of Drew Doughty and Moritz Seider because of their ability to move the puck and play physically. The teenage girl from Norway has attempted to imitate this look.

Brandsegg-Nygard remarked, “He’s really good physically, so it’s hard to get around him.” “He makes really good reverse hits and he’s a really good passer: He’ll fake to one side and go the other way; he’s great at that.”

This season, Solberg, who plays full-time for Valerenga’s pro team, has already discussed the draft with NHL scouts and completed “a lot” of team questionnaires. In fellow blueliner Andrew Nielsen, a former Toronto Maple Leafs prospect who was drafted in the third round back in 2015, he has something of a cheat sheet on his team as well.

“I’ve talked to Andrew a lot, he’s a great guy and we’ve become pretty good friends,” Solberg stated. I have a lot to learn from him because he has experienced everything, including the draft and the combine, about which I have questioned him. We’ve discussed his journey together, and I can learn from him.”

To put it simply, Brandsegg-Nygard is the highest-rated Norwegian prospect ever. He’s a first-round talent who, given the right circumstances, might finish in the top-15. The young player, who grew up idolizing NHL players like David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin, has been a competitive player in Sweden’s second-tier professional league, the Allsvenskan. He leads the league in scoring among players in their junior year and is the youngest by nearly a year.

Solberg remarked, “He’s a quick skater with a great shot.” “He frequently visits the net in search of teammates with whom to play. He’s a terrific player who leads by example for his teammates.”

Brandsegg-Nygard finds it pleasing that the Mora team comprises a large number of Norwegians, even though he points out that they are all fluent in Swedish. This has been his professional breakthrough, despite spending some time with the team last season.

According to Brandsegg-Nygard, “the level of competition this year is a big step, from junior hockey to senior hockey.” “Harder, of course, but I feel I can handle it well.”

This summer marks the expiration of his contract with Mora, so Brandsegg-Nygard will undoubtedly have suitors. He informed me that although he hasn’t decided yet, he has considered traveling to North America to play major junior. Similar to Solberg, he hasn’t decided what he wants to do for the upcoming year yet.

However, both players have a bright future ahead of them, and if they keep growing in the same direction, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them both in the NHL at some point. Who knows, they might end up being the best their nation has ever produced.

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