Swedish born forward Rickard Hugg is a member of the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League. The twenty year old NHL prospect is set to enter his second NHL Entry Draft after going undrafted in 2018.
The Hudiksvall, Sweden native was a point-per-game player in each league he played in during his career in Sweden. He consistently produced and earned the opportunity to join the Ontario Hockey League. Hugg spent the majority of his junior career playing for Leksands IF in Sweden prior to making the transition to North America.
Rickard Hugg was selected, 2nd round 60th overall in the 2017 CHL import draft. The forward made his Kitchener Rangers debut against the Flint Firebirds on September 22nd 2017. Rickard eventually tallied his first OHL goal on November 26th 2017, he played 66 games his first season in the OHL and finished with 32 points. Hugg added three goals and six assists in 19 playoff games that same season.
His first season undoubtedly had ups and downs, Rickard prepared for the NHL entry draft and remained hopeful to hear his name; however that did not come to fruition. Going undrafted in 2018 fueled the Rangers sophomore with added incentive to prove himself for the upcoming 2019 NHL entry draft.
Rickard quickly put his rookie season behind him, since then he was named the Kitchener Rangers captain thanks in part to his leadership qualities and great play to begin his second season. It is understandable his first season required an adjustment period. It appears that Rickard has done just that, he has established himself as a leader and has become an offensive threat in his second OHL campaign.
Rickard undeniably displayed his ability to produce in all areas of the game, Hugg plays with pro-ready awareness and vision. He is a dynamic forward that works hard every shift and wants the puck on his stick. He has an explosive first few steps that transitions into a strong fluid stride and extremely quick top speed.
He is currently ranked 162nd among North American Skaters, an improvement from the 193rd rank he received during Central Scoutings mid-season rankings. Rickard possesses attributes that could translate well to the next level, he plays a strong two way game, tenacious and an all-out workhorse. Hugg leads by example and was a crucial part in the Kitchener Rangers reaching the playoffs.
Kitchener Rangers General Manager Mike McKenzie had this to say about his captains breakout season.
“Rickard had a great year for us and played in all situations. He took a huge leap in his offensive production from his first season with us and really embodied everything we believe a Ranger should be. He was a leader on and off the ice and that was why he was named Captain halfway through the season. We will definitely miss him next year.”
He finished the season in the top five on the team in total points; Rickard tallied 30 plus goals for the first time in his entire career. The ’99 born Rangers forward recorded career high numbers with 33 goals and 40 assists to finish with 73 points in 2018-2019, these totals doubled his rookie season numbers.
However, Uncertainty lies ahead for the twenty year old Rickard Hugg, Preparing for the 2019 NHL draft back home as he returned to the SHL after a disappointing first round exit from the 2019 OHL Playoffs. The Rangers lost four games which evidently cost them their playoff hopes. With regards to Rickard, A tough way to end his season after a career high in goals, assists and points. He has done all he can to showcase his talents for scouts, returning home will likely ease the tension and distractions for the Rangers captain.
The possibility of Rickard Hugg not hearing his name called during the upcoming NHL draft is a real scenario. The unknown is where do scouts value his production? With his increase in numbers across all the scoring categories will teams contribute that to his older age? Will he continue to excel at the pace he did this season in comparison to his previous year? Questions that only time can answer and for Rickard Hugg, those are answers he is hoping to give fans if given the chance at the next level.
A better look at the overall production from the Rangers forward may lend some insight to how talented he is and his true value. In 128 games played in the OHL, Rickard scored 39 goals and tallied 66 helpers for 105 points as a member of the Kitchener Rangers. Nearly reached the point per game totals he held while playing in Sweden, his OHL point per game average is a 0.82.
It is quite evident that Rickard Hugg has what it takes to produce; this is despite having a rough start to his rookie season. He can slot in to a bottom six spot on most teams rosters in the pros as of now. He could definitely challenge for a top six spot if given the opportunity, he proved that with his resilience and impressive 2018-2019 season. We will wait to find out if Rickard will return to North America as a prospect for an NHL team.