April 6, 2021

Rangers Roundup: Nils Lundkvist wins best Swedish defenseman award; lines not set in stone; and NHL Trade Bait Tracker

Jun 22, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Nils Lundkvist poses for a photo with team representatives after being selected as the number twenty-eight overall pick to the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One of the New York Rangers 2018 first round picks Nils Lundkvist was announced as the winner of the Salming Trophy. It goes to the best Swedish-born defenseman in the SHL as chosen by Bjore Salming himself. Nils led all defenders in goals with 14 and power play goals with 8.

“I am extremely honored that Börje believes in me – it’s really great,” Lundkvist said after winning the award. “I still get shivers when I watch video clips of how he was praised with minute-long standing ovations during the Canada Cup 1976.”

Nils Lundkvist wins Salming Trophy

nils lundkvist
Nils Lundkvist (Lulea/SHL)

“Despite his young years, Nils is already a complete player, but who will get even better,” Salming praised Lundkvist. “He moves the puck quickly, has a great shot on the power play. Is effective in own zone. It’s so easy for Nils – he plays ice hockey.”

Nils Lundkvist concluded his SHL career and is now going to chase down a championship with Lulea. This season, the 20 year-old defender racked up an amazing 32 points in 52 games played. In 166 career SHL games he recorded 78 points. What shouldn’t be lost is that he managed these points as a teenager in Sweden’s top pro league.

For context; his 78 points are the most ever in SHL history for a blue-liner under 21. Lundkvist’s 166 career games are tied for most by a defensemen in his U21 or younger season in league history. These are simply amazing stats for the Rangers third first round selection in the 2018 draft (Vitali Kravtsov 9, K’Andre Miller 22, Nils Lundkvist 28).

NYR practice lines not set in stone

At yesterday’s practice line combinations had Colin Blackwell moved up to play with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. Kaapo Kakko was moved to the third line with Vitali Kravtsov going to the fourth line left wing. As expected caused an uproar from some Rangers fans.

“When you make one adjustment your whole lineup changes,” Quinn began to explain. “We like the way Kaapo’s played but we wanted to give the second line a different look with Blackwell.” The head coach noted that another reason for the move was to get Kakko and the rest of the kids line away from the other team’s top forwards and defensive pairings.

The next two games against the Penguins will be played at MSG and thus Quinn will have the last change in order to get the kids line a better matchup. While the reasoning is logical, it would likely be better for Kakko to continue to gel with two of the Rangers better forwards. At the same time it’s hard to argue against Blackwell as he’s been one of the more productive forwards with three goals in his last four games.

Quinn also made it a point to talk directly with Kakko to make sure he understood the move. This speaks volumes to the young players as many older coaches would not go out of their way to explain it to them. So while this isn’t ideal at the moment; it needs to play out not only tomorrow but over the course of the next few games.

As for Vitali Kravtsov, he admitted that the speed of the game was a bit of a struggle for him. Quinn has him on a fourth line with Julien Gauthier and Kevin Rooney which should help him continue to transition to the NHL pace. “That doesn’t mean [Kravtsov] is gonna be down there forever or even during the whole game,” Quinn noted. As for his lines tonight, nothing is set in stone. “You can move people around,” the coach reiterated about repeated questions to his practice arrangements.

NHL TRADE DEADLINE: TOP NAMES ON THE BLOCK

The NHL Trade Deadline is less than a week away on April 12. The Daily Goal Horn is now tracking 47 names on its Trade Bait Tracker. Check it out here.

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