Steffen and Markus Soberg during the Division 1 Group A World Juniors (Photo credit: IIHF).
In Norway, NHLers are few and far between. Unlike neighboring Denmark and Germany (let alone Sweden), Norway hasn’t established itself as a producer of elite hockey talent. As of right now, only 18 Norwegians have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft, only seven have played in an NHL game, and just one is currently a part of a big-league roster: the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello.
Hockey fans from Norway sure hope some of their fellow countrymen will be selected in the upcoming draft and one of the names they’re waiting to be called in Newark in late June will sound familiar for the Caps fans: Markus Soberg.
Markus’s older brother, Steffen, is a Capitals goaltending prospect. Steffen’s impressive regular-season campaign (first in wins, second in save percentage) earned him best young player of the season honors in his country’s top hockey league, GET-Ligaen. Playing with Valerenga, Soberg made it to the GET-Ligaen finals where his team fell to the defending champions, the Stavanger Oilers. Steffen led Team Norway to the victory in Division 1 Group A WJC (second tier of international junior hockey) and promotion to the highest level for next year. Older Soberg was named the best player on the Norwegian squad selected by the coaches. To cap off a good year, Soberg was called up to the national team for the World Championships. He never played at the tournament but was dressed as a back-up for one of the games.
His brother, however, has gone the other way in his development. Unlike Steffen, who preferred to stay in his home country, Markus has been playing in the elite Frolunda program in Sweden since he turned 16. Now he is a part of the SuperElit roster, a major junior team. His debut in the big league was expected late last season according to the Norwegian media, but for some reason it didn’t happen. Still, there’s little doubt that Markus will soon step on the ice in one of the best European leagues.
Last season was a big one for Markus. He led scoring in U18 Division 1 Group A WJC and was tied for sixth in points U20 tournament, where we had a rare chance to see the brothers play with each other.
The big question is whether or not Markus will be drafted. Well, it depends on whom you ask. NHL Central Scouting placed Markus 82nd in their final rankings of European skaters (down 19 spots from mid-season), which is well in the “Undrafted” category. Independent scouts, however, disagree. Corey Pronman put Soberg in as #186 of his rankings. The Hockey Writers’ board was even more impressed with Soberg’s performance. In their latest edition of monthly top-120 rankings, Soberg is present for the first time as 119th draft-eligible player.
Scouts are impressed with Soberg’s strong skating and willingness to play a two-way game. Soberg, who can play either wing, brings a lot of energy in every game and his relatively small frame (5-11, 187 lbs) doesn’t stop him from being physical.