Noah Östlund is a centre forward from Stockholm, Sweden who was born in March of 2004. Östlund has split his time between the SHL and the Swedish junior league, J20 Nationell, during the first half of the 2021-22 season. Due to limited ice time during his eight games, he has yet to register a single point in the SHL. In the J20 Nationell, he has been a reliable point producer with six goals and 22 points in 16 games.
Östlund combines high work ethic over 200 feet with offensive skill. His best qualities include his quickness, playmaking ability, and hockey sense. Offensively, he combines these qualities to create chances for himself and his teammates. He dictates the pace of the game using his poise with the puck. Östlund is especially effective during the powerplay where he thrives along the half-wall. Defensively, he obtains inside position and covers passing lanes by using anticipation and his quick feet. His offensive playing style mimics a young Jonathan Drouin, as they both show similar puck handling skills and passing plays. Though similar, Östlund could end up as a better defensive player than Drouin.
As of December 2021, Östlund is ranked between #13 and #24. On his club, Djurgårdens IF, he plays alongside fellow prospective first rounders Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Liam Öhgren. These players could be picked in any mutual order come June. Öhgren is the most NHL-ready player, much thanks to his size. Lekkerimäki has been dominant scoring wise and has tallied almost a goal per game in the J20 Nationell, but Östlund stands out as the player that best combines his skill with high work ethic and defensive responsibility.
|Date of Birth||March 11, 2004|
|Place of Birth||Nykvarn, Sweden|
|FCHockey Draft Ranking||21 (December 2021)|
|NHL Draft Eligibility||2022|
Noah Östlund is an agile puck-mover that thrives during offensive transition. He uses his speed along with his vision to transport, or pass the puck, from one zone to another. Östlund tends to start the transition while deep in his own zone, where he often supports his defensemen by offering them a valid passing option. Sometimes he will come as deep as the goal line to collect a pass, even though the opposition is setting up in a trapping structure. Through the neutral zone, he is often the player to transport the puck on his stick, even when playing with skilled line mates.
While gaining the blue line Östlund can use subtle directions shifts to deceive defenders. Occasionally, he will attract defenders to create space for his teammates before passing the puck. This enables puck possession offensively without dumping the puck. His puck control is an asset for his team during the cycle around the opposing net. Despite his 5’11”, 163 lbs size, he is assertive in the trenches in the offensive zone. Though he could be outpowered physically, he is aware of his teammates positioning even when heavily checked along the boards.
Östlund´s playmaking is best put on display along the half-wall during the powerplay. A key part of his success when it comes to running the powerplay is his manoeuvrability while controlling the puck. He naturally increases rather than decreases his footspeed while surveying the scene for a pass. Östlund uses his swiftness both to deceive penalty killers and to open passing lanes.
Östlund´s shot is a potential area of improvement. Though he has ambitions to use a one-time slapshot when the opportunity arises, he will have to improve the success rate. That being said, many prime playmakers never even try nailing a one-timer from the half-wall, and he has actually scored on the one-timer during the first half of the season. This courageous feat was a reward for his aspiration to improve his scoring touch. If he manages to add pace and accuracy to his wrister as well, Östlund could be an even more well-rounded player. Helped by his speed and puck control, he creates many chances to utilize his wrister. If he’s able to obtain the skills needed to improve it, he could get a great return.
The excellent effort Östlund puts in while backchecking reflects his character. He uses his speed to contribute on the backcheck with the same matter of course as on the offensive rush. While on offence, he starts his defensive thinking already deep in his offensive zone. He is quick to occupy a precautionary position high in the offensive slot if he anticipates that the play is turning.
Östlund uses his hockey sense to create an edge during puck battles in the defensive zone. He often anticipates where an offensive player intends to pass before the receiver does. His understanding of where the play is going outweighs his size deficiency during physical encounters. Considering Östlund´s sound defensive positioning, it would be interesting to see him on the penalty kill. This is a privilege he has yet to earn at Djurgården U20. If there is anything to crack down on in the defensive zone, it is Östlund´s tendency to use too tight margins when skating out the puck. This is barely noticeable in the Swedish junior circuit, but it is a detail that could be polished before taking the next step in his career. Though it must be done with caution, his ambition of leaving the defensive zone with puck control should simultaneously be encouraged.
Noah Östlund is a borderline elite skater. He is not the tallest player on the ice, but he bends his knees properly to gain power in his strides. By doing so, he generates high speed during straight-line rushes. Östlund maintains or increases his speed when transporting the puck, which opens passing options. Though his skating technique is solid, his strides could be more powerful. We expect this to be addressed as his lower body strength improves.
In addition to his high straight-line pace, he is quick in tight areas. This is particularly noticeable during pivots and crossovers. When coming out of crossovers he generates acceleration that helps him maintain puck control in critical areas of the ice. His tight turns and manoeuvrability also cause disorder around the opposing net during an offensive cycle.
There is a high ceiling on Östlund´s potential. Not many other players combine playmaking ability, speed, and defensive responsibility. This has him ranked between pick #13 and #24 for the draft by the major scouting bureaus as of December 2021.
Östlund processes the game as an experienced player, which is a solid foundation to build on for the team that drafts him. For his prospect in the NHL, it is important that he is allowed to develop in line with his strengths. Östlund thrives in an environment where his team focuses on puck-control, similar to what is done at Djurgården. Playing dump-and-chase hockey during his developable years will not maximize the return in an investment in Östlund. With adequate education and further improvement, Östlund could be bound for a top six role in the NHL.