Gabriel Kangas is a winger from Stockholm, Sweden who was born in September 2003. Kangas has been splitting time between the U20 league J20 Nationell and the second-tier pro league in Sweden to start the season. His point-totals during the 2021-22 season after 13 games in J20 Nationell is at nine with four of them being goals. In the second-tier pro league, he has scored one goal in 19 games as of 5 December 2021.
Kangas plays with good intensity and is strong on both sides of the puck. He also possesses soft hands that he uses to move the puck to high danger scoring areas in the offensive zone. While he is a scoring threat, he also has the vision to set up teammates. He is able to move the puck in a high pace thanks to his work ethic and agile skating in tight spaces. On the defensive end of the ice, he uses his powerful stride to retrieve loose pucks. Along the boards he enjoys engaging physically to get defenders off the puck. His work ethic and decent skill draw comparisons to former Pittsburgh Penguin Chris Kunitz in terms of playing style.
Kangas was ranked at #95 by FC Hockey in their October ranking. The team that picks hem will get a player that is more NHL-ready than many prospects selected ahead of him in the draft. Kangas will likely be a player that could contribute with depth scoring while giving his team an honest effort over 200 feet.
|Date of Birth||September 25, 2003|
|Place of Birth||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Height||180 cm / 5’11”|
|Weight||79 kg / 174 lbs|
|FCHockey Draft Ranking||N/A|
|NHL Draft Eligibility||2022|
Kangas´ skill when it comes to combining solid two-way abilities and offensive plays set him apart. His defensive skill often puts him in a position to create offence. He is also quick to present a passing option for his defensemen deep in the defensive zone if needed. Kangas is patient enough to skate out the puck even under pressure in his own zone. His confidence with the puck is useful also in the neutral zone, where he uses his vision to distribute the puck.
During the forecheck, Kangas uses his physicality despite his lacking size (5’11”, 174 lbs). He will survey the scene for passing options even before engaging in a physical altercation. He is thereby quick to set up teammates if he comes out with the puck from the corner. When options are lacking, he has the composure to keep the puck on his stick rather than delivering a bad pass.
Kangas has the ability to dictate the pace in the offensive zone, especially during the powerplay. He thrives with the puck along the half-wall where he can survey the scene and pose a threat with his left-handed shot. He also plays at the point on the powerplay, which often comes from a position switch with the point man initiated by himself. Whether he has the puck or not, Kangas is always hungry to find open ice and is constantly moving in an attempt to find a spot. The ability to find open ice is a strength that keeps Kangas point total up. A detail he will have to improve on is his wrist shot; he often fires the puck with high pace, but his accuracy could be better.
Kangas effort on the backcheck is impressive and he will work intensively to regain a lost puck all over the ice. Along the boards, he frequently finishes his checks which requires quickness playing on an Olympic sheet. Kangas manages to do so without being out of position in the defensive zone. So far, he has been playing on both wings in both the second-tier pro league and the J20 Nationell in Sweden. Considering his defensive ability, it would be interesting to see what he can achieve at the centre position. He certainly has the prerequisites of work ethic and hockey sense to succeed down the middle.
Kangas also plays on the box play where he uses is active stick and positioning to cover passing lanes. He is aided by his ability to make subtle directions shifts to stay in the shooting lane of attackers. It is noticeable that he is aware of where he is on the ice, as he keeps the right distance between himself and his teammates. He also understands when he has to cover for a defender deep in his defensive zone.
Kangas´ skating is intense, and he take his strides with high frequency. While his strides are powerful, Kangas has to work for his meters gained on the ice. He does not have the effortless stride seen at elite skaters. His lower body strength however aids his acceleration, which he uses to get past defenders. In the offensive zone, he is also mobile in a way that serves him well as he looks for open passing lanes. He moves laterally while controlling the puck; a skill that is particularly helpful on the powerplay where he dictates the pace from the half wall or the point position.
Kangas is a well-rounded player with a solid work ethic. The question mark for the future is whether he will be able to contribute offensively playing in an elite pro league. Even at lower levels, Kangas has not been the player to light up the scoring sheet. As mentioned, his shooting accuracy could certainly be improved as well. This could be a key step to increase his point production, both in the J20 Nationell and at higher levels in his career.
Even though his scoring will not be elite if he makes it to the NHL, Kangas´ skating, hockey sense, and his puck handling skills could make him a point contributor. Even though it will likely be in a bottom six role, his skill bear witness of talent that could help cope with NHL speed as he continues to develop. Kangas is likely to be selected in one of the middle rounds of the draft, but he could move up the rankings if he better manages to convert his scoring chances into points during the latter half of the 2021-22 season!