When it comes to prospects in Europe it can be very easy for news about them to pass unnoticed in North America. For Niklas Hansson this appears to be the case.
Hansson, 19, was named as one of Rögle's alternate captains in August. The move makes him one of the youngest As in the Allsvenska and shows some promise in his future.
He's a smooth skating, right shooting, offensive defenseman and was drafted in the third round, 68th overall, in 2013. He played his first Elitserien (now SHL) game in his draft year. He played an important role in their failed attempt to avoid relegation.
He had 13 points (2-11-13) in 43 games last year with Rögle in the second tier of Swedish hockey and played a big part in their promotion battle. While they fell short, on goal difference, he was highly impressive. In the 16 games they played in the post season he had 10 points (1-9-10).
In the buildup to their regular season he was considered a good enough player for Rögle to have several SHL teams approach and ask whether he was available. Hansson decided then that he would go to the end of that season and see if Rogle could earn promotion into the SHL.
Despite failing to be promoted Hansson decided to stay, signing a two year contract. Having been given an A it seems likely that Hansson has a solid grip on a big role with Rögle. In a few of their pre season games he was playing up to nearly 20 minutes per game. If he continues that during the regular season it could be a real boost to his development.
Another interesting potential avenue for Hansson will be the World Junior Championships that will be held in Canada between the 26th December 2014 and 5th January 2015. He will be still be eligible due to his January birthday to play and he has a good shot at playing for the Tre Kronor.
Hansson has been given a real opportunity this season to step up and blossom as a player. He will be getting the ice time to push his limits and hopefully improve upon his 13 points campaign last season. While it might still be a few years until he plays in North America he is showing signs of great promise.