New York Rangers: Nils Lundkvist has a chance to be special

Nils Lundkvist poses after being selected twenty-eighth overall by the New York Rangers
Nils Lundkvist poses after being selected twenty-eighth overall by the New York Rangers /

The New York Rangers selected Nils Lundkvist 28th overall in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft. Besides having a last name very similar to the team’s star goaltender, there are many reasons to watch out for him in the future.

Since the New York Rangers are approaching their first rebuild in a while, executing it properly is beyond important. This began with the draft, almost a month ago.

The team had three selections in the first round, the first of which was Russian standout Vitali Kravtsov. The 18-year-old was taken as the ninth pick in the first round and should be a valuable asset in the future.

Next came K’Andre Miller at number 22 in the first round. Miller is an 18-year-old defenseman known for his work in the United States National Team Development Program.

Finally, the Rangers selected Nils Lundkvist 28th in the first round. While the former two players have gotten a lot of attention and scouting, not as much has been done for the 17-year-old from Sweden.

Though he has flown somewhat under the radar of most, Lundkvist has the potential to become a solid defensive contributor for the team in years to come.

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Past Experience

Lundkvist is a bit of a tricky case to analyze since he spent all of his developmental years playing for virtually different versions of the same organization in the same league. For all four seasons that he has been active, he has been playing for Luleå HF of the SHL.

He began his professional playing career in the 2015-2016, splitting his time between U16 and U18 teams. Overall, he played 30 games, racking up three goals and seven assists for a total of 10 points. In six playoff games, he recorded one point, an assist.

The following year, he divided his time between the U18 and U20 teams, serving as the team’s captain. In a total of 42 games, Lundkvist recorded 29 points including nine goals and 20 assists. He appeared in five playoff games, recording two points, both goals.

This past season, he played for both the U20 team and the official Luleå HF SHL team. In 54 games, the defenseman notched 19 points, five goals and 14 assists. In eight playoff games, he racked up five points, all assists.

He also appeared in two tournaments. In World Juniors with Sweden, he played seven games and scored two points, both assists. In the International Junior Tournament, Lundkvist appeared in eight games, recording four points, one goal and three assists.

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What to Expect

In an interview given on the day he was drafted, Nils Lundkvist said that he models his game after players like Victor Hedman and Kris Letang. Both of those players are known for being skilled defensively and offensively. He also explained that growing up in Sweden in the 2000s, he watched current New York Rangers goaltender and fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist quite a bit.

When asked to describe himself as a player, Lundkvist called himself a skilled two-way defenseman. Additionally, he feels that he is strong when playing in both ends. He also added that he has great hockey sense and great skating abilities.

According to a source on his Elite Prospects page, the 17-year-old is a “mobile puck-moving defenseman who likes to make quick decisions and join the rush.” He is also known for the confidence that he displays when he has the puck. After watching some of his past highlights, other notable aspects of his game include his shot and his passing abilities.

Next: Vitali Kravtsov prospect profile

Though it’s still early, it looks like Nils Lundkvist could definitely help out the New York Rangers. His defensive skill could contribute to mending the defensive issues that the team always seems to have.