William Lagesson -- a 23 year old, a 6’2”, 207-pound defenseman from Sweden -- checks in at #18 in our 2019 edition of the Top 25 Under 25. Lagesson checked in last year at #17, and here’s what Shona had to say then:
”This is a make or break year for Lagesson. How he performs for the Condors this year will help inform the course of Lagesson’s trajectory with the Oilers. If he plays well, he might find himself as an emergency call up to the NHL at some point in the season. A poor season will see him fall behind other defensive prospects on the left side.”
Lagesson’s season in Bakersfield was interesting. His offensive game flourished, with his 8-19-27 in 67GP his highest total on any team, in any league, at any level. That likely formed the basis for most of the hype Lagesson received coming down the stretch. Lagesson’s own-zone work comes fairly highly regarded via scouts and the like, though, despite gaudy shot totals, it appears he was a bit of a drag on them relative to his teammates this season. His goal share numbers weren’t off the charts by any means, either.
Lagesson still finds himself, at least organizationally, slotting in behind all of Evan Bouchard, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, and now likely Philip Broberg, too. At the same time, because of the changes at head coach and general manager, this might be his best shot at making the team out of camp given all the fresh eyes this season. It will be interesting to see how he acquits himself, and whether he can force himself ahead of some of those other players in the eyes of Dave Tippett and/or Ken Holland.
What They Say
”A strong defenseman that can put up some points, but plays more convincingly in his own zone. Likes to get involved in the rough stuff and has a pretty good physical game. Strong positionally, but could work some on his skating skills.” - Eliteprospects, 2014
”Lagesson’s first season in the AHL has undoubtedly been a strong one. He isn’t the best skater but he has a solid defensive game and doesn’t hesitate to engage physically. He isn’t known for his offence but his 24 points in 55 is definitely respectable. Him and Logan Day, who likes to push the pace offensively, have formed a solid pairing as they compliment each other very well. Lagesson has been praised by the Condors coaching staff and could fight for a spot on the Oilers as early as next season.” - DobberProspects, 2019
”The pairing that 37 showed up on, in tracked games, was always to the left of Jones, or to the left of Bear, or to the left of Day. The third was the only time Lagesson took less than a top 3/4 role at 5-on-5.
Lagesson’s season got covered in an interesting way, he generated decent buzz (comparatively, for a late-rounder that’s been simmering) from both legacy media outlets and independent sources, with none really mentioning the most peculiar parts of it - a huge drag from good shot-shares down to poor goal-shares across the board. The uniformity is sort of stunning, along both shooting percentage and save percentage lines. Still, something that was noted in other media was the surprising offensive spike, which occurred at 5-on-5 typically. Any 5-on-4 offense that ended up on the board had to have come from limited opportunity, also, because he was deployed behind three or four other D when it came to playing the point at man-advantage.” - PetroPraxis, 2019
What We Say
William Lagesson was very much a top-4 contributor on an impressive Bakersfield team that made a slight run in the playoffs and happened to etch their names in the record books with one of the longest winning streaks in AHL history. Lagesson was a part of that, though it appears he was somewhere between the third and fourth most important part of it (among defenders), hence his remaining in this portion of our Top 25 list for another season.
His skating is still not where you might expect it to be for a competent NHL defender in 2019, but Adam Larsson isn’t the fleetest of foot either and he manages just fine. Or, he did until last season. Lagesson is still young enough for another couple rounds of T25 coverage, but time is always of the essence for guys like him.
The uptick in offense last season was very welcome, and likely necessary, to improve his chances of being an NHL defender, and it will be very interesting to see whether he can back it up if he does start in Bakersfield this fall. And, given that he is still a left-shooting, left-sided defenseman, that seems most likely at this point.
In saying all that, Lagesson is right on the cusp of being a threat to make the Oilers this season. It is, undoubtedly, a long shot, but if the time isn’t now, it may be never. Lagesson is on the last year of a two-way deal and is set to become an RFA next summer. If he finds himself on the outside looking in come October, don’t be surprised to see Ken Holland test the market on Lagesson to see what’s out there. Granted, they could simply QO him next summer to retain his rights and dance this same dance again, but the logjam in front of him is still quite significant, and if he likes he chances elsewhere he may want to take them. Of course, this is merely speculation.
In last year’s article Shona concluded, “Lagesson is 17th on the list partly because we’re divided here at Copper and Blue. His ranking ended up being a sort of split the difference situation. Lagesson is unproven in North America and he’s stuck behind some pretty big names in the Oilers defensive depth chart – Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse being the two that have the potential to be the longest term obstacles to finding NHL success. Lagesson might end up being attractive trade bait for the Oilers as well. If Lagesson adapts well, it may make sense for the Oilers to see what kind of return Lagesson can net them.”
Swap a couple of the names out there, but do you see much different heading into this season? I don’t.
Lagesson likely ends up on the top pair in Bakersfield -- assuming one of Jones or Bear graduates to the first team this fall -- and will see a slight uptick in his 5v4 usage as a result. If that indeed comes to pass, look for Lagesson to build on an impressive-if-surprising 2018-19 season offensively at 5v5, and pay close attention to how he performs with even more responsibility in all situations.