Right now, the tank is going smoothly for your Anaheim Ducks. They are currently nestled as snug as a bug in a rug, for fourth place in the elusive #blowin4owen #1 overall draft selection sweepstakes according to tankathon.com. The teams worse than the Ducks will be tough to displace from their well-fortified positions.
One of those horror teams has made the foolish decision to sack their coach once again and trade their veterans for pucks. They’re pretty much just having ‘random guy X’ fill in the gaps for the rest of the season, which may make it tough for the Ducks to scream past them (Buffalo) and pip them at the post.
The Seattle Kraken of course will always be one of those teams, by league machinations, to have a sturdy chance of drafting highly. Which at the time of writing, leaves only the New Jersey Devils. Owners of a current 8-game losing streak and a team in full tank mode, having traded away ex-Duck Kyle Palmieri for what appears to be a future contender for “trades that helped keep your team in the basement.”
Of course, the vagaries of the draft process are what they are, and the NHL may be part of a conspiracy to never award the first overall selection to a Californian team. That be as it may, the Anaheim Ducks should consider themselves in a strong position for the top slot at the draft. At worst, it looks like they’ll be drafting in the Top-5.
So what makes the most sense? Bob Murray may still be looking for his Chris Pronger and have purposely kept Coach Dallas Eakins around in order for the Ducks to realize that aim and draft Owen Power. Given that future Ducks captain and alternate captain, Brad Lambert and Matvei Michkov respectively, are to be drafted over the next two seasons, perhaps a defenseman makes sense from a future team lineup balance perspective.
However, the Ducks are somewhat at the mercy of those drafting above them. Who that will be is harder to pick than a broken nose, given the lack of a clear consensus regarding almost all of the players in this season’s draft. However, the Ducks took Jamie Drysdale last season, while holding Henry Thrun and Ian Moore in their hot little hands. Additionally, drafting defensemen simply isn’t as fun as drafting forwards, which is why the Ducks could consider one of the more eye-catching forwards in this year’s draft. The right-shooting right-wing, Fabian Lysell.
Fabian Lysell Draft Profile
Born: January 12, 2003 (17 yo) Göteborg, SWE
Draft Year Team: Lulea HF (SHL)
Height: 5’10/179 cm
Weight: 172 lbs/78 kg
While Lysell’s stats (see Elite Prospects) aren’t necessarily as mind-blowing as many would want from their draft pick at the pointy end of the draft, it’s worth noting that according to Pick224.com, Lysell’s production at the junior level this season ranks his estimated primary points per 60 (P1/e60) at 15th overall (3.46) amongst draft year players. When skating with adults (inc AHL, SHL, and Liiga), his P1/e60 ranks him 5th (0.94) amongst the same cohort.
The Anaheim Ducks Case For Drafting Lysell Starts with His Skating
In recent years, the Anaheim Ducks have seemingly made a concerted effort to draft players who can skate like the wind. Without naming names, only two of the Ducks’ recent draft selections can be considered weak skaters.
This theme of sorts has also found its way towards their pro scouting, as over the past 18 months they’ve acquired players such as Sonny Milano who is extremely quick, alongside players such as Kevin Shattenkirk and Haydn Fleury on the blue line. Fabian Lysell fits this profile like a glove, as he may be arguably the strongest skater in the draft class and should the Ducks draft him, be amongst the strongest of the Ducks as well.
Where Lysell uses his skating best is breaking out of the defensive zone. Kyle Pereira (LastWordOnSports) rates his ability to breakout as amongst the best of the Swedish players eligible for this season’s draft. This feature of his game, once again, fits the Ducks Modus Operandi, as they, under Bob Murray, have routinely recruited players who excel in transition hockey.
Cam Fowler has long been exalted as a quality transition player and, more recently, Troy Terry has come into his own in this facet of the game. The aforementioned Milano is another who is strong in this area of the ice. Taken together it can be said that Lysell’s strengths mimic the game plan that the Ducks seemingly have in place with their recruiting at present.
Defensive Play Reminiscent of Andrew Cogliano
Pushing even further towards the Anaheim Ducks desires, Lysell appears to be more than adequate, to the point of excellence, on the defensive end. As a smaller player, Lysell needs to be positionally sound, and indeed he is.
He thinks the game at a high level and maintains a situational awareness that would make the most hardened combatant blush. Having this skill set, and his quick feet, allow him to plug holes on defense and get his stick into passing lanes. His high rate of defensive zone breakouts in a men’s league is a testament to how effective he is on this side of the puck.
I’m certain none of us needs reminding how much Bob Murray values two-way players. While Lysell may never be considered a Selke candidate, his frame, his speed, and his ability to think the game, at least suggest that he may be able to hold down some important defensive assignments in the same manner that former Duck, Andrew Cogliano, was able to do alongside Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg.
Cogliano was one of the more aggressive “defensive” forwards the Anaheim Ducks have iced over the years and Lysell, at least according to Dobber Prospects Tony Ferrari, seems to share that with him.
Nonetheless, with the Anaheim Ducks drafting so highly they’ll want to find a player who can score. After all, even Cogliano was drafted for his potential offense at the time. Potential is perhaps exactly the correct word for describing Lysell’s offensive game.
His sublime skating and hockey IQ have already been mentioned, and they make further appearances here, as he has the capabilities to blow by the defense, creating space for himself and his linemates. Perhaps most exciting is that he is able to stickhandle around, and even straight through, the defense while skating at his top speed, taking the puck into high danger areas.
It seems like almost every player the Anaheim Ducks draft is considered a playmaker primarily and a shooter second (sans Jacob Perreault), and Lysell is no different. With his ability to weave through traffic, Lysell has the tools to become a lethal facilitator of the puck. It’s worth noting that he’s also an aggressive forechecker and is very much capable of winning puck battles in the corner before escaping to space or rifling a pass to an open teammate.
In some ways, it’s a shame that Lysell is primarily the pass-first player that he is. Like so many of the Ducks playmakers over the years (I’m looking at you Mr. Ryan Getzlaf), Lysell’s shot is criminally underrated. It’s accurate to the point that his shot almost looks over-trained, it’s so mechanical. His release is also lightning quick, which given his abilities to skate the puck into dangerous areas, highlights the potential for a prolific scorer in tight quarters.
The Case Against: Strength and Power
While Lysell’s shot is quick and accurate, the near-mechanical nature of it doesn’t appear to be particularly creative nor elusive, which may perhaps be one of a number of reasons that his goal-scoring has lagged this season. Though I should note that ISS Hockey would disagree with this, as they have suggested he’s a shooter at heart who craftily alters his shooting angles and release.
However, what isn’t open to debate at this point in time is that the player will need to develop his strength base, and develop more power to his shot. At present, despite the clear upside to his shooting, he simply will not be able to overpower NHL netminders with regularity.
Perhaps Lysell can make up for the lack of penetration on his shot by creating his chances in close and utilizing that quick release. However, it seems that a patient approach allowing the player to simply become stronger might be a more prudent approach.
While this may not necessarily seem like a negative to most, Bob Murray has stated he wants NHL-ready players immediately to push the Anaheim Ducks back towards the playoff picture. The Ducks have seemingly followed that line of thought with them bringing nearly every prospect of note into the NHL system perhaps a little earlier than many may expect. In this regard, a longer-term project like Lysell may simply not line up with the Ducks’ desires at this present time.
Draft Year Scoring
Further, with respect to Lysell’s offensive production in the SHL, I would hazard a guess that his smaller frame in an adult league has a large part to do with it. Not being as physically robust has him playing fewer minutes than he may have in junior hockey, and not being able to overpower and blow through players has granted him a little less space than he would typically have against players his own age. As a result, both his opportunity to score big goals and to create them has suffered.
Where the Anaheim Ducks, and fans, should refrain from getting caught up when considering the above, is where each prospect is now as opposed to where they could be in the future. For instance, Lysell is a 2003 birthday compared to William Eklund who was born 4-months earlier in 2002. It may not be much, but Eklund is further along his development curve right now than Lysell and would appear to be a “safer” selection.
Controlling His Own Destiny
Perhaps one further concern that may inhibit Bob Murray, is that Lysell asked for a transfer this season. The player himself stated in an interview with Expressen, that he made the request with the idea that he wished for playing time in the SHL.
“I felt that I needed a change of environment and a fresh start. Frölunda is an organization that produces a lot of talented players — but I personally felt that I needed a new environment to develop in. Luleå fitted in very well for me.” – Fabian Lysell on his transfer to Luleå HF
At face value, this is a pretty innocuous happenstance, and some may even suggest that the player did the right thing in chasing his dreams. After all, SHL playing time is most likely going to help him achieve his goals of playing in the NHL. However, Murray has long critiqued young players for having the gall to desire their own destinies and for speaking out or requesting a trade.
He has publically panned players such as Jonathon Drouin for not toeing the line and has traded nearly all of his own players who have held out for more money in RFA negotiations within 18-months of them finally reaching a negotiation. It may simply be that a player who has demanded playing time and asked to be traded in order to get that playing time, will be too much for Murray’s Ducks to handle.
This year’s draft has a little more variation in the top end compared to many in recent history. With that variable nature will come draft decisions that may appear off the board, or reaching, in the eyes of many. In truth, it’s not something we’ll really know until years have passed.
With that said, of the prospects I have looked over, I personally find Fabian Lysell to be the most intriguing of the prospects who may be considered early in the first round. At the very least I find him the most electrifying to watch of those I’ve had the opportunity to see, be it in person or via highlight clips.
In order to sell that opinion, what I will say is this: Lysell’s awareness, speed, stick handling, and transitional skills present a case for a player who could become a league-wide elite threat on offense as well as on an aggressive penalty kill. Conversely, Lysell is a small player and he has not been able to get it done in an AHL equivalent league (the SHL) in his draft season. Nor was his draft year -1 a particularly prolific season comparative to other potential top-10 draft picks such as Dylan Guenther or William Eklund.
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This is the fulcrum that Lysell balances upon. On one hand, a smaller framed player with little penetration to his shot may top out somewhere in the range of Andrew Cogliano or Sonny Milano (0.36-0.39 points per game) and thus not necessarily be the ideal top-5 draft selection a rebuilding team like the Ducks may desire.
On the flip side of the coin, for an undersized, quick-skating, playmaker off the wing, Patrick Kane has had a passably acceptable career. That’s not to say that Fabian Lysell plays in any way similar to the players mentioned above, but merely an indication of the risk versus reward that he brings to the table should the Ducks be willing to take the chance.
Thus, the question I would ask is whether the notoriously risk-averse Anaheim Ducks, can afford to gamble on a boom or bust prospect such as Lysell at this stage of their rebuild/retool? Or perhaps a better question should be, can the Ducks afford not to gamble on Fabian Lysell reaching his upside? For those on the fence, you need only to watch the Under-18s world junior championships which are on right now, to decide.
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