Photo Credit – Frölunda HC
Frölunda, the Gothenburg based club, have been the pre-eminent force in Swedish hockey for the last 20 years. Since 2003 they have won four Le Mat Trophies, the most of any SHL club over that time-span. They have also been a breeding ground for NHL talent. Henrik Lundqvist, Erik Karlsson, Rasmus Dahlin, John Klingberg, Loui Eriksson, Fredrik Andersen, Robin Lehner, Alexander Steen and Lars Eller are just some of the names that were developed at the Scandinavium Arena. In the last 10 drafts no less than 34 players have been drafted from their pipe-line.
Yet the current crop of Gothenburg talent might be the deepest ever. Their J-20 team right now has potential first round picks on the third line. But when you tune in to watch the lavish riches of talent that take the ice each game one player stands out. While Red Wings prospect Theodor Niederbach dissects a game clinically, Winnipeg Jets winger Daniel Torgersson over-powers all in his wake, and potential top five pick Simon Edvinsson effortlessly breezes up and down ice, a diminutive winger is the one who is hard to direct your gaze away from.
Fabian Lysell is Frölunda through and through. He has played for three teams since he first put on skates. His youth teams Bäcken HC and Hovås HC are within 10 miles of the Scandinavium, and at 14 years old Lysell made the move every Gothenburg hockey acolyte dreams of, and donned the famous red jersey.
His ascension since then has been meteoric. He played u-18 level at 14 years old, and u-20 level at 16 years old. Lysell also made mincemeat of international competition with 32 points in just 22 junior international games. And saying he is fun to watch while he does that is an understatement.
D.O.B – January 19, 2003
Nationality – Sweden
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –176 lbs
Position – Left Wing/Right Wing
Handedness – Right
Lysell’s Style Of Play
Dynamic is an understatement when it comes to Lysell. His combination of hands and speed are breath-taking. It is rare for even an experienced, skilled, NHL player to have the puck control, poise and confidence to make the moves Lysell does with ease in full-stride. Puck-on-a-string comes to mind. His feel make it seems like he was born with a stick in his hands, or simply that it is an extension of his body itself. Even good defensemen at the u-18 international level get a deer-in-headlights look when Lysell picks their side of ice to attack. For good reason. He often makes them look like pee-wee players as they end up a foot-note in an ever expanding highlight reel.
Then there is his finishing. Not only can he carve through a whole team, but when he gets to the slot or goal-mouth he is clinical. He has a good release that is deceptive. It seems at times as though he is only half-way through a move when he turns his hands back over and flicks a puck past a statue-esque goalie. His wrist-shot is lethal, and his back-hand is amongst the best of any draft eligible. What is scary is that he could improve his technique on his shooting as well. He overbalances at times and the velocity is reduced as a result.
But he is not just a speedy sharp-shooter with silky hands. His beautiful touch extends to his passing. That combined with a natural lane-finding ability that Nicklas Bäckström would not be disappointed with means he is a threat from everywhere. He can find his team-mates anywhere on ice, and shred defenses who manage to keep his speed and shot on the rush in check on the cycle.
So, you ask, what are the downsides to his game? With his all-around explosive offensive tools there has to be a down-side? Well… yes. But maybe not where you would expect.
Defensively he works hard, and is great at picking off passes, disrupting lanes, and turning defense into offense. While no stalwart I would argue that he is at very worst “average” defensively for a winger his age. He is not physical in the slightest, which may draw some into the conclusion he does not commit enough in his own end… but when you key in on him he hustles hard inside his half of ice, and can cover for his center when they get caught up ice. With increased size and strength he could be a positive in his own zone even in the NHL. He has a broad frame for his height, and should be able to add weight going forward without losing any dynamism.
The area he does need to improve in though is, well, to play a more mature game at times. It might simply be that at the u-18, and even u-20, level the level of competition is simply too easy for him, but he can over-do things in terms of trying one move too many and play going the other way when there were better options. At times it appears as though he has to have seen a good passing opportunity, or a high percentage cycle play, but simply decides to take on three or four players anyway. Puck-management being more consistent is a must.
Some question if his hockey IQ matches his skill as a result, but I don’t believe there is any real cause for concern there long-term. He will soon be playing pro-level hockey in Sweden, and learn what he can and cannot get away with vs hardened professionals. At the junior levels he has no cause to alter how he approaches the game right now due to his overwhelming success.
Lysell’s draft position might be tempered simply by the fact he is in a very deep junior set-up where he does not get the ice-time he would elsewhere, and his lack of SHL minutes as well. He also might not get to show what he can do at the international level with the global situation right now. But make no mistake. Lysell is certainly a top 10 talent, and a player who could develop into a true game-breaker down the line. With the opulence of ability in the 2021 draft it may well be that Lysell falls into the 11-15 range. If he does the team who snaps him up will be laughing all the way to his first 30 goal season.
Artemi Panarin, Left Wing, New York Rangers
It might seem a lofty comparable. But squint when you watch them play and you could mistake them for each other. Both righties who can bomb down the wing. Both similar in stature. Both love to embarrass opponents with feats of magical stick-handling. Both with very similar wrist-shots technique-wise. Both see the ice and can thread a pass. And both work hard in their own zone and excel at lane disruption. Will Lysell ever be the player the Russian dynamo is? It is doubtful. But a Panarin-redux can still be a special player.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alex on Twitter, his handle is @alexappleyard.
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