This past season with Lulea in the SHL, Nils Lundkvist was recognized as the SHL’s best Swedish born defenseman by winning the Salming Trophy. He registered 32 points on the strength of 14 goals in 52 games this season. Those goals were the most from any defenseman 21 years or younger in SHL history.
These numbers have Chris Drury believing he could be the last man standing at camp for a spot on the team’s defense.
Nils Lundkvist ready to make the move to the NHL
The New York Rangers signed the 2018 first round draft pick (28th overall) on June 3rd. They allowed him to hone his game in the SHL in hopes that he will be ready to make the jump to the NHL this season.
“I am going to the best I can to improve (at camp) and show everyone the player I am,” Lundkvist said after Day 2 of Development Camp. “I feel like I’ve had a great couple of years back home in Sweden. It feels like I’m prepared for this and hopefully I can do my best. It’s not me that is going to decide if I’m ready.”
Lundkvist’s honesty is refreshing but he already has a leg up with the way President and GM Chris Drury feels about him.
“He can skate, he’s got a big shot, he can be on a power play,” Drury said before camp started. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on the team.”
The young defenseman really felt staying home, especially with the COVID situation made sense for his development. He’s also not intimidated by the smaller ice surface, he realizes the game is faster but he also said it’s less ice to defend.
Lundkvist relying on his experience to make an impact
“When I was drafted, I was a little player and struggled a little bit with defense,” Lundkvist said. “I improved that the last couple of seasons in Sweden instead go being 18 when you come over (to NHL). Now I am 21, I got older, bigger, and stronger. Hopefully that will not be a problem but we are going to see.”
Lundkvist is now a more fully developed 5-11 and 187 lbs rearguard. His skating is above average with a great shot. His hockeyIQ is what should allow him to adjust to the NHL which can be attributed to his maturity.
“I haven’t stressed,” he said about getting ready. “Getting older, getting more experience both on and off the ice I think has been good.”
Of course, he has fellow Swede Patrik Nemeth as his most likely defense partner, whom he has started getting to know. But he’s already in awe and looking forward to spending more time with Mika Zibanejad.
“I talked to him when I signed,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting to meet him too. Growing up, watching him score the goal at the World Juniors, he’s a big player, and a huge role model. Hopefully, I can learn from him.”
Mika Zibanejad leads today’s NHL Rumors
Reports indicate the Zibanejad and the Rangers are working on a long-term deal. Also Kessel trade rumors and more. Read here.