No Nils Lundkvist next season, he re-signs with Lulea

New York Rangers prospect Nils Lundkvist will stay in Sweden next season

One question about the 2020-21 New York Rangers was answered when prospect Nils Lundkvist re-signed with Lulea, his Swedish hockey team.

The translation of the Tweet is “Here comes the most awaited LHF news: Nils Lundkvist has extended with Lulea Hockey and will remain in Norrbotten another season.”  Norrbotten is county in Sweden where Lulea is located.

When fellow first round draft pick K’Andre Miller signed to his Entry Level Contract (ELC), the question was whether Lundkvist would follow in his footsteps.  He chose not to and was quoted on the Lulea website as citing the current COVID-19 situation as one of the reasons (rough translation):

“We have discussed back and forth about the future, where the agents did most of the work. And I have come to the conclusion that it feels best for me to stay another season in Luleå Hockey. This means that I will be able to accumulate even more experience until the day I cross over. Also, if you look at the state of the world right now, this feels best to me.” – Nils Lundkvist

Nils Lundkvist  has been steadily moving up the Ranger’s depth chart.  Many believe that he has a better upside than Miller.  Both defensmen were drafted in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft first round.

He just finished his third season in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), finishing with with 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points in 45 games, setting a new league record for points by a defenseman under the age of 20.  Those are better numbers than other Swedish players like Viktor Hedman and Rasmus Dahlin. He was name the league’s Junior Player of the Year.

Lundkvist, who will turn 20 in July, starred at the WJC with Team Sweden.  He finished the tournament with eight points in seven games.

It cannot be seen as a disappointment as the Rangers have a surplus of righthanded defensemen on the roster.  Another full season in the SHL won’t hurt his development and spending the season in Europe is a wise move considering the uncertainty regarding the future of the NHL’s next season.

An interesting possibility is if the 2021-22 NHL season begins in December or January and runs into next summer.  The SHL season will end long before the NHL season and Lundkvist could sign his ELC after his season is over and come to North America and play meaningful games in the NHL if he is ready.   The late start to the season gives the Rangers some decent options for managing their roster.

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