Going into the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins were in desperate need of a high-profile, highly skilled prospect to bring some life into a rather depleted farm system. This year’s draft class gave them several different options at virtually every position.
However, the B’s needed to prioritize which position they took in the first round. Their top prospect, Jack Studnicka, is a center and they already have two very good goaltending prospects in Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar. So, the positions they probably were targeting were right wing and defenseman.
Luckily, with some questionable and off-the-board picks earlier in the round, the B’s had some prospects fall to them at pick No. 21 (unofficially No. 20 due to Arizona forfeiting their pick at No. 11).
With that, Boston was able to select arguably the most skilled player in the draft — Swedish right wing Fabian Lysell. In his media availability after the selection, B’s general manager Don Sweeney said they were going best player available, but he also contradicted this statement by saying they scouted Lysell more than other prospects, meaning they were targeting Lysell.
What does Fabian Lysell bring to the Bruins’ prospect pool?
Lysell is one of the best skaters in this year’s draft class. The 18-year-old can get to his incredible top speed in just a few strides. He then has the ability to turn at ease. His acceleration, speed, and agility make him a serious threat to opposing defensemen both along the boards and in the middle of the ice.
A great combination with his elite skating, the 5-foot-10 right wing also comes with great hands as he can make dekes and other advanced stickhandling moves at top speed. This allows Lysell to create odd-man rushes and effective zone entries. His dirty dekes can be seen with the highlight below.
His stickhandling also provides him the ability to slow down the pace of the game. This allows his teammates to get open. Lysell then has the vision and hands to find and create passing lanes.
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While Lysell is more of a creative playmaker, he also has the tools to score goals himself. His shot is quick and deceptive. However, it lacks power, which may make it difficult for him to score against NHL-level goaltenders. But, he has some time before this will be an issue.
Defensively, Lysell is very advanced for his age. He backchecks hard and positions himself nicely in his own zone. Lysell then uses his top-notch speed and acceleration to get into passing and shooting lanes to cause turnovers. However, due to his smaller stature, he can have trouble with larger opposition, especially during board and net-front battles.
Going into the draft, Lysell’s rankings were all over the place. However, he averaged in the first half of the first round. But, there were some “character concerns” surrounding him that made him slide a bit.
However, these character concerns are nothing to worry about as they were created because he requested a trade this past season from Frolunda HC so he could play in Sweden’s top league of the SHL as Frolunda was too good of a team and wouldn’t give the talented winger this opportunity.
Some scouts and experts took this as arrogance and over confidence. However, I see this as a tactic to increase his draft stock and speed up his development. Lysell got his wish as he was traded to Lulea HF and got to finish this season in the SHL.
Although he didn’t produce much point-wise (just two goals and three points in 26 games) it’s worth mentioning that Lysell was playing in a fourth-line role, averaging just over seven minutes of ice time a game. He was also playing against men instead of teens like him. It’s also encouraging that Lulea kept him in the SHL instead of demoting him to J20 despite the lack of production. Lysell had to be doing all the small things right.
Sweeney was asked about these “character concerns” and had this to say:
"“There’s growing up to be done for all young men and women, and Fabian’s no different. We felt satisfied that he’s made a lot of strides growing into a young man and beyond.”"
Overall, the Bruins getting Lysell with the 20th selection in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is great value. Lysell’s play style has been compared to that of both Nikolai Ehlers and Mitch Marner, and he projects as a first-line right wing. Hopefully he’s ready in for the NHL in two years, so he can take over for Craig Smith when his contract is up.