With the hockey world looking towards the drama that was and still is NHL Draft Lottery, it is easy to forget that, for many teams, players selected at the draft over the last two to three years will have the biggest impact for the 2020-21 season. As we approach July, some franchises are starting to get a better idea about which of their top prospects will be available when the 2020-21 season eventually kicks off.
Lundkvist Signing in Sweden
As the 28th overall pick made by the New York Rangers’ at the 2018 Draft, there was much expectation about what Swedish defenseman Nils Lundkvist could mean to the franchise. After all, that pick was one piece of the deal that sent former captain and defensive linchpin Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Related: Rangers’ 2018 Draft Class Update
After the 2019-20 season, Lundkvist looked to be the real deal for New York. As a 19-year-old playing with HC Lulea of the SHL, he posted 31 points in 45 games. These totals are impressive, given the level of competition he faced in Sweden’s top hockey league.
While many speculated that he could be ready to take on NHL playing time in 2020-21, Lundkvist decided otherwise, signing a one-year extension with his home-club in Sweden.
Nils cites that another year in the SHL helps build his experience and with the state the world is in, locked down under a pandemic, it makes sense to stay home and come over when it is safer to do so.
While Rangers’ fans will be slightly disappointed by this announcement, it should ultimately be good news for the franchise. This will give Lundkvist another year to develop as he takes on meaningful playing time against top-talents in Sweden, while they still have defensive prospects like K’Andre Miller and Vitali Kravtsov fighting for a starting role out of training camp.
Red Wings Cancel Prospect Tournament
Next comes news that really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The Detroit Red Wings announced that they have canceled their annual 2020 NHL Prospect Tournament due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 tournament was to be held in Travers City in September before training camps and would feature top prospects from eight teams. While these tournaments are appreciated by fans, as they allow an early glimpse at who could be the future of a franchise, there was no way this sort of event could be held in 2020 given the circumstances.
Related: Top 5 Goaltenders of the 1960s
In fact, one should expect every other 2020 prospect tournament to be canceled as well. With so much uncertainty surrounding the start of next season, it seems unlikely that these sorts of events will be able to take place in any capacity right now.
Prospect of the Day: Daniel Torgersson
Since we started talking about a well-known Swedish prospect, I felt that it was appropriate to discuss 2020 Draft hopeful Daniel Torgersson today. While he is not considered to be in that elite-tier of prospect, he is a great representation of the depth available this year.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
See, despite being projected to go in the third-round, Torgersson is that sort of prospect that every franchise dreams of adding to their pool. As said by THW:
In many ways, Swedish forward Daniel Torgersson has everything that the NHL is looking for in a prospect. At 18 years old, he already has an NHL-caliber frame, clocking in at 6-foot-3, 205 lbs. Not only that, but he skates well, has a great shot and often makes the right decision on the ice.
So, while the hockey world argues about the merits of the Draft Lottery, players like Torgersson provide a reminder that there’s an incredible amount of talent available this year. Even if you aren’t picking first-overall, there are legit NHL-caliber prospects at almost every level of the draft.
Sure, Torgersson may not be ‘elite’ right now, but given time to develop his game, he could become that third-round steal that everyone looks back on and wonders how he was overlooked.