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The 2018 NHL Draft might be called the year of the Swedish defenseman. Rasmus Dahlin is a lock to go first overall, and Adam Boqvist should also go very high. However, it is the depth of Swedish defenseman in this draft that is really astounding. There could be 6 or 7 Swedish born defenders to go in the first two rounds.
One of those talented defensemen is Nils Lundkvist. He made the jump to the SHL with Lulea HF this season, playing 28 games in Sweden’s top men’s league and putting up two goals and five points. He also played 26 games in the J20 league, putting up three goals and 11 assists for 14 points. Lundkvist was even better in the playoffs with five assists in six games. It was enough to earn him a spot on a talented Swedish blueline at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. Lundkvist put up two assists in the seven-game tournament and came home with a bronze medal.
Nils Lundkvist Scouting Report
Defence — Shoots Right
Born July 27th, 2000 — Pitea, Sweden
Height 5’11” — Weight 180 lbs [180 cm / 82 kg]
Lundkvist is a good skater. He has very good speed, and excellent acceleration in his forwards skating. Moving backwards is not quite as good, but still well above average. His edge work and agility are very good, as he can change directions and make quick cuts. Lundkvist has strong pivots and this allows him to transition from offence to defence quickly, and vice-versa. He could stand to work on his lower body strength. This would give him better balance and allow him to be stronger on the puck, and in battles in the corners and in the front of the net.
Lundkvist is skilled with the puck on his stick. He can skate the puck out of danger as well as lead the rush in the transition game. Lundkvist has poise at the point on the power play. He controls the play and can move laterally to create passing and shooting lanes. He sees the ice well, and has the passing skill to make plays from the point, to make the first pass in transition, as well as to make the long breakaway passes.
Lundkvist is much more comfortable as a play maker than as a shooter. When he does get a shot, its often by sneaking in from the point and taking a shot from the top of the faceoff circles. He has a good wrist shot with a quick release. However, Lundkvist lacks power on his slap shot and one-timer. He will need to work on these. Some added upper body strength can help, but he is likely to always be more of a play maker than a shooter on the point.
Lundkvist’s lack of size can be an issue in his own end. He can be overpowered by bigger, stronger forwards. He is willing to engage in the corners and in front of the net, but is limited. Again this is an area where added muscle mass will help him. He is good at retrieving loose pucks and moving them up the ice quickly. He also is well-positioned and has a quick stick that can poke the puck away from an attacker.
Projection and Comparison
Lundkvist could develop into a top four defenceman, capable of moving the puck quickly and adding some offence. He needs time to add some strength, and to continue to work on his slap shot and his backwards skating. Lundkvist will likely spend another season or two in Sweden before coming over to North America, and the team drafting him should be patient with his development. If things go well they could add a real weapon in a league that is moving more and more towards speed and skill on the blueline every year. Lundkvist’s game is reminiscent of Tomas Kaberle, though this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Lundkvist that are available on youtube. Unfortunately, there is not a lot available.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
PLYMOUTH, MI – FEBRUARY 15: Nils Lundkvist #7 of the Sweden Nationals turns up ice with the puck against the Finland Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 15, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. Finland defeated Sweden 5-3. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)