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2021 NHL Draft: Fabian Lysell is so damn fun

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IHOCKEY-WC-IIHF-RUS-SWE Photo by GINTS IVUSKANS/AFP via Getty Images

If there is just one young prospect that most casual and not-so-casual draft fanatics will be jumping for joy if their team snags him in the mid-to-late first round, it would be Fabian Lysell.

After a year bouncing between the Swedish junior league and the Swedish Hockey League, Lysell found himself of a Luleå HF team full of former NHL players (most notably former Philadelphia Flyer Erik Gustafsson, the other one) and a couple NHL Draft hopefuls. Due to the older, more experienced roster, the teenager wasn’t able to get a ton of ice-time and that can certainly explain his low point totals. Averaging just over seven minutes a game, Lysell was just there for the experience, and was able to flex his playmaking at the lower level, notching up 10 assists in just 11 games with the junior squad.

Lack of minutes aside, Lysell has been able to display some incredible ability overseas and is one to look out for on July 23.

Pre-Draft Rankings

#9 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

#7 by Elite Prospects

#13 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic

#22 by Corey Pronman/The Athletic

#10 by FCHockey

#12 by TSN

What Scouts Are Saying

If you were to create a highlight pack for each of the draft’s top forwards, Lysell’s would probably be the most impressive. He’s the only player who flairs like Johnson, and he’s not a one-trick pony, either. He can dance a defender by pulling pucks through his wide stance and across his body to beat them with a lateral cut/leap. He can dance defenders to the outside with his high-end top speed or a quick change of pace (both of which grade out at or near the top of this draft. He’s got cuts, and stops and starts, and directional changes. His shot has started to pop more, as well. He’s also a puck thief who has impressed me with his diligence on backpressure and his ability to jump into seams to intercept passes. I do think he can come and go in games and try to do too much, though, and I worry that his effectiveness may wane against pros as his ability to flash and dash is diminished. There’s no question his skating will translate. He comes at you in waves and his pace can catch defenders sleeping. But there are times when he can look like he’s playing a little too much on instinct and I’d like him to be more inventive (he’s got plenty of creativity when he slows down!). He’s also going to need to learn to operate a little differently to be effective at higher levels and his production (three points in 26 SHL games in 2020-21) doesn’t align with the “wow” factor of the moments.

-Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Lysell is one of, if not the most, dynamic players in this draft. Although his offensive production with Luleå has been underwhelming, the other aspects of his game are still shining through. His skating and IQ allow him to match the pace of SHL hockey, which is no easy feat for an eighteen-year-old. He is a reliable and creative playmaker, consistently driving through the neutral zone and generating quality opportunities for himself and his teammates. Additionally, Lysell has improved his defensive game significantly since arriving in Luleå. He has grown into an effective 200-foot player and with a few months until the July draft, Lysell is certainly building a case for first overall.

-Alexa Potack, Dobber Prospects

Lysell was up and down this season after a great underage season, moving from Frolunda to Lulea midseason where he didn’t play much but ended strong at the U18 worlds. Lysell is one of the more talented players in the draft, who beats defenders consistently with his puckhandling displays. That he’s a great skater, with both good speed and edgework and can make very skilled plays at full flight, makes him a handful to defend. On his best shift, Lysell is using his skill and speed to get around guys and take pucks to the net, or making tremendous plays with pace to his teammates. His physical effort comes and goes off the puck, but with the puck he plays with courage. In a sentence, Lysell projects as a second-line winger who has the talent to dominate an NHL shift but may frustrate observers too.

-Corey Pronman, The Athletic

If there’s someone in this class to challenge Johnson when it comes to creativity, it’s Lysell. He never gives up on a play and is constantly pushing the pace. Lysell is able to create space for himself and his teammates and, on top of that his two-way game, is sneakily underrated.

-Josh Bell, FC Hockey

Would He Fit In With The Wild?

Lysell is a player that works hard as hell in the offensive zone and needs a little bit of refinement for the rest of effort in other places on this ice. Honestly, he just seems like the type of player that the Wild could use more of. Maybe not as he currently is, but his playstyle would be more than welcome in the coming years as more prospects start to graduate into the first team.

Other players can worry about defense.

Could The Wild Get Him?

It’s tricky. With the 21st and 25th picks in the first round this year, waiting around for Lysell can be just twisting your arm into an entire knot as you cross your fingers so damn hard. Some projected mock drafts have him slipping down to that range, but he most likely will be in the middle 10 picks of the round, just outside of reach. If Wild GM Bill Guerin really likes Lysell and wants to take the jump if he’s still hanging out there in the mid-teens, then he can certainly try and trade up with one of his picks to snag the dynamic winger.

With the recent picks of Marco Rossi and Mara Khusnutdinov, it seems like the Wild’s director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett is targeting forwards that work their asses off on the ice and Lysell is just that.

A Minnesota Relation

The Wild have not been a franchise with a ton of pure offensive talent, but with his skating ability and skill to stickhandle his way around defenders — and please I’m not saying that he will play at the same level as this player — but it’s Kirill Kaprizov. If we want to talk about electric players in the offensive zone and ones that can create scoring chances by utilizing the little space they’re allowed, then Lysell’s closest comparable player in Minnesota history has to be the most recent Calder Trophy winner.

As always, comparisons are weird and awkward, but this one sort of just fits.

2021 NHL Draft Board

  1. Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  2. Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  3. Brandt Clarke — D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovenia)
  4. Luke Hughes — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  5. Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
  6. Simon Edvinsson — D, Frolunda (SHL)
  7. William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  8. Kent Johnson — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  9. Mason McTavish — C/W, Peterborough Petes/EHC Olten (OHL/Swiss)
  10. Carson Lambos — D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
  11. Aatu Raty — C, Kärpät (Liiga)
  12. Chaz Lucius — C, USNTDP Juniors (USHL), U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
  13. Cole Sillinger — C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
  14. Sasha Pastujov — LW, U.S. National U18 team (USDP)
  15. Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå HF (SHL)
  16. Fabian Lysell — RW, Luleå HF (SHL)