Prospect of Interest: Fabian Lysell brings intriguing potential

In a draft class known more for its defence than its dynamic offensive talent, Fabian Lysell stands out as one of the most skilled players in this 2021 crop of prospects. His somewhat unconventional route to the draft this past year makes him also one of the most intriguing.

He’s a fast, dynamic winger whose greatest asset is his skating. Here’s what you need to know about Lysell ahead of the 2021 NHL Draft.

Age: 18 (Jan. 19, 2003)
Position: Right wing
Shoots: Right
Current team: Luleå HF (SHL)
Hometown: Göteborg, Sweden
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 172 pounds

He’s another strong product of the Frolunda HC hockey factory
Lysell developed with Frolunda HC, the Swedish professional franchise based in his hometown of Gothenburg. Over the years, Frolunda has developed a really strong reputation as a premiere development destination for Swedish players who have found great success once they make the jump into the NHL. Alumni include greats like Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson, and more recent top picks such as Rasmus Dahlin and Lucas Raymond.

With Frolunda, Lysell found success at every level, and that strong development as a goal-scorer saw him thrive on the international circuit, too. With Sweden’s U16 junior club, he tallied 10 goals and 19 points in nine games. He scored at a goal-per-game rate at the U-17 world championship, and added three assists in four games that same season at the U18s. This past season, Lysell helped Team Sweden to bronze at the U18 world junior championship with three goals and a team-leading six assists for nine points through seven games.

He switched Swedish teams
While he grew up with Frolunda, Lysell ultimately had to make the switch to another club in order to reach his goal of playing in the SHL this year ahead of the draft. After starting the 2020-21 season with Frolunda’s junior squad, registering three goals and 13 points in his first 11 games, Lysell requested a move to Lulea HF where he could get experience playing with the men’s team. The move brought fewer minutes of playing time and less freedom to play his game, resulting in a drastic drop in production. However, Lysell still appeared in 26 games at the senior level, gaining experience playing amongst men that he wouldn’t have had with Frolunda.

Per Elite Prospects, he’s poised to return to Lulea for his first full year next season.

His skating and stick-handling are elite
Simply put, Lysell is one of the most straight-up skilled players in this draft class, his offensive abilities driven by his incredibly strong skating, speed, and creativity with the puck.

With great offensive abilities comes an assumption that his defensive game might not be up the same standards, but his skating serves him extremely well there — he’s aggressive in pursuit of the puck, and unafraid to go hard against an opponent in order to win it back.

He’s a bit of a wild card in the rankings
This year’s draft class has, understandably, been tougher to assess than most as COVID restrictions have thrown the scouting process several curveballs. Lysell’s case is particularly interesting. His transition to a new organization at the highest level in Sweden brought a dip in production and playing time while perhaps also ruffling a few feathers in terms of his reputation.

He finished the year ranked ninth on the NHL Central Scouting’s list of European skaters, and has the feel of a player who could be selected in the single or double digits. In his post-lottery mock draft, Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino has Lysell going to Chicago at No. 11:

“This pick comes with some risk as well, but at his best, Lysell is the most dynamic, game-changing player in the draft. The youth movement fuelled by some inexpensive surprises (Kurashev, Suter, Hagel), allows Stan Bowman to swing for the fences here,” writes Cosentino.

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