We are in the endgame now in regards to the 2021 NHL Draft.
Later tonight the Edmonton Oilers will do one of two possible things. They will either make their first-round selection at the #19 position or they will trade the pick for who knows what. Since the last time the Oilers went through the first round without a pick was back in 2006, I think it is fair to assume that the team will hold onto it.
Another wrinkle of information to consider is that the Oilers will most likely be holding off from drafting a defenceman if we are to believe Ken Holland in his latest press event. I was already tackling this series of profiles from that angle, as the prospect cupboard is already quite full on the back-end but lacking on the forward shelf.
Alright, since I used a poor cupboard analogy to start things off, I think now is the perfect time to introduce the final player of this series. Distinguished guests, may I introduce you to Swedish forward, Fabian Lysell.
Who Is Fabian Lysell?:
Fabian Lysell is a 5 foot 10 172lb Swedish right-winger that spent the last year playing with Luleå HF of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He only managed three points in 26 games in the SHL but showed a lot more promise when playing against his age level in the U18s, scoring nine points in seven outings.
The main draw to Lysell is his skating and his stick skills on both ends of the puck. He might be one of the best skaters in this draft class with lightning-quick acceleration and a good first step. This makes him a handful for opposing players as giving even a little bit of space with the puck will likely lead to him blowing past for a scoring chance.
This, of course, makes him a dangerous offensive weapon every time he is on the ice, but don’t think that Lysell is a one-trick pony. Despite a rather small frame, he is an effective back-checker that uses his stick to create turnovers and cause general chaos for attacking players. Furthermore, after causing a turnover he is excellent in transitioning up the ice.
The mental side of the game seems to be up to professional standards as well. He is rarely caught out of position on either end of the ice and tends to be aware of where his man is at all times.
The areas of his game that need improvement aren’t too concerning. His shot could use some more power but that will come with more training and maturity. Lysell is also fairly small but, if history is any indicator, it would be a mistake to make that disqualifying factor.
Steve Kournianos (The Draft Analyst): “Speed kills, which is why Lysell continues to hover around the top 10 in spite of a rather quiet season as a depth player in Sweden. Add the fact that teenagers in European elite leagues rarely produce on par with North American junior or college prospects, and you’ll see why Lysell’s upside is a lot less hazy than the numbers may indicate.”
Sam Consentino (Sportsnet): “This pick comes with some risk as well, but at his best, Lysell is the most dynamic, game-changing player in the draft. The youth movement fuelled by some inexpensive surprises (Kurashev, Suter, Hagel), allows Stan Bowman to swing for the fences here.”
Tony Ferrari (DobberProspects): “Elusive playmaking winger who breaks down opposing defenders with his great speed and puck handling ability. A threat off the rush and from the half wall on the power play.”
Ben Kerr (Last Word on Sports): “Lysell projects as a possible first-line winger in the NHL. His advanced defensive game and the fact that he has already been playing against men mean that he may be NHL ready quickly. However, he likely needs to spend at least one more season in Sweden, getting stronger and producing offense in the SHL.”
Does He Make Sense at 19?:
A short answer to this would simply be yes. Lysell certainly has his fans when it comes to this draft. his dynamic skill has some thinking he should be within the top 5 but, in such a disjointed draft year, that seems like a long shot.
I have a gut feeling that Lysell might be the guy to slide down a few more spots than expected and that would put him right into Edmonton’s range at 19.
Here are the rankings from the pros:
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 14
Craig Button (TSN): 27
Sam Consentino (Sportsnet): 13
Nick Richards (Dobberprospects): 3
This makes it sound like he will be off the board by the time it is Edmonton’s turn, but stranger things have happened in the NHL Draft.
Potential Fit with Oilers?:
I honestly think Lysell fits the Oilers better than a lot of prospects around this range. He is a complete package right-winger that projects to be a top-line player in this league. His speed fits the mold of Edmonton’s top six and he could very easily become a staple there for years to come.
The defensive part of his game being well-developed is also a sign that he could be a versatile player for the club if he puts on some weight in the coming years, which is basically a given due to him being an 18-year-old kid.
Jesse Puljujarvi seemingly has the top RW spot locked up for some years to come but he could come in and battle with Yamamoto for that second line position as soon as 2022/23. A lack of production in the SHL will cause some concern but, like Raty, it must be noted that he wasn’t played in a premier role with Luleå and that the league is typically unkind to young skilled players in terms of point production.
He might be a long shot to actually drop to the Oilers' pick but, if he does, Lysell would be my top target as I think he is vastly underrated in this draft class. If size didn’t scare so many teams away I’d consider him a top-10 talent.