Throughout the season of a draft eligible player, there are numerous ways to get noticed by various scouts. Having a good season in your respective league is always a good choice. Playing well on a team with other draft eligible prospects will draw some eyes. However, scouts can only be at one place and at one time. Therefore, getting named to play for a national team and playing well in a tournament is often another way to get attention. Swedish defenseman William Lagesson arguably got to do all that - and it's the latter that may have increased interest in him.
Who is William Lagesson?
William Lagesson hails from Göteborg, Sweden and has came up through Frölunda's system. Per his profile at Elite Prospects, Lagesson stands tall at 6'3" and 203 pounds and he completed his first full season in the SuperElit league with the U-20 team. Here are his career stats so far:
Based on his basic stats, he's been somewhat productive as he has averaged 0.4 points per game at the junior level. Twenty points in 44 games for a defenseman isn't bad. Only fellow draft-eligible Julius Bergman produced more than him. Then again, twenty points doesn't put Lagesson in the top 100 scorers in the SuperElit last season. As implied earlier, Lagesson has represented Sweden at the youth level. He had a very good performance at the World U-18 Tournament. Other defensemen scored more than Lagesson's three goals on 13 shots. However, his play in general was impressive enough to be named of Sweden's top three players by the coaches. The others named were defenseman Sebastian Aho (Alex profiled him here) and forward and likely-first-rounder William Nylander. While it's foolhardy to have seven games on a very talented team predict a player's future, it's still a honor to get such a designation. Especially in a competition featuring many of the players who will be drafted in Philadelphia later this month.
By the way, the Dubuque Fighting Saints drafted Lagesson with their first pick in the USHL Draft in May. That doesn't necessarily mean he will come to North America shortly. Especially if there's an opportunity to play with the senior team next season. Then again, I doubt Dubuque would have used their first pick on someone they didn't have some confidence of coming over. We'll see.
What Others Have Said About Lagesson
After the World U-18s, Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News wrote about Lagesson in this May 7, 2014 edition of The Hot List. He was listed second on his list with the following summary:
A big, strong defenseman who is nasty to play against, Lagesson also chipped in three goals for the Tre Kronor at the world under-18s. Already 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds, Lagesson was picked up by Dubuque in the first round of the USHL draft, so perhaps we’ll see him over here sooner than later.
It's not much but knowing that he uses that size is a bit of a plus. Having a large frame doesn't necessarily mean knowing how to use it. For a defender, there will be times where that is useful.
During the tournament, Mike Repertorio had this short summary on Lagesson at Pro Puck Prospects:
Lagesson has continued his steady accent up Frolunda’s system, making a stop as an assistant captain at the J18 level before potting 20 points at the J20 level in 44 games this season.
Lagesson considers himself more of a defensive defenseman, with his best asset being his defensive zone play. He does however admit to contributing offensively when he can, but wants to improve his quickness and his shot to help round out his two-way play.
The twenty points in 44 games is an offensive contribution. He also chipped in at the international level, too. Yet, the question is whether those skills can translate to the next level. Wanting to improve tells me that he needs to work on them to do just that - and that it may not happen.
Lastly, Jacob Nystrom has been ranking the top 1996-born players throughout the year at Hockey Sverige. You may remember the site in past profiles for Adrian Kempe (here's my profile on him) and you may recognize names like Aho and Marcus Pettersson (CJ did a profile on him). Lagesson rounds out Nystrom's top ten in his ranking at the end of April. Here's his description run through Google Translate:
Large, tough player who is not afraid to step in rough play and play physically. Did a great U18 World Cup and strengthened their shares before the summer. Is no point machine from the back room but has offensive qualities that perhaps forgotten.
From this and other blurbs, the hope for whoever drafts Lagesson may be that he has this offensive game that just needs additional improvement to blossom. He wasn't devoid of production at the U-20 level. Then again, if that was the case, that would be among the first things mentioned about Lagesson. Instead, it's about his size and how he uses it.
An Opinion of Sorts
There isn't a whole lot out on Lagesson, but I wouldn't be surprised if his name came up a little more as the draft heads closer. Perhaps as an "underrated" prospect or a potential mid-round find. It must be said that his 2013-14 season as a whole saw his stock soar in the eyes of some. For example. Central Scouting Services' ranked Lagesson only 40th among all European skaters at midterms; but moved all the way up to 18th in their final rankings. That's going from a realm of not likely to be drafted to very likely to be picked in the first half of the draft. Having a standout performance at the World U-18s while continuing to grow in Frölunda's system will do that.
However, I get the sense that Lagesson may not become much more than a defensive defenseman. It is true he did really well at the World U-18s and showed more than just a little production with the U-20 at the club level. Yet, what others have said haven't really praised his shot or his passing skills or his awareness. It's been about how he's big, mean, and a force in his own end. That's all well and good but it's a reason why he's not being touted any higher than he is. Even with a massive jump in the CSS ranking and what he's done, I don't think he's sneaking into the second round unless a team really, really loves him.
Now, if the Devils were able to get Lagesson in the third round (or later, though I don't think he falls terribly far past it), then I wouldn't think it's a bad thing but I think they could do better. Yes, he's not a forward. But players picked in a draft are mostly not going to be ready right away. These are prospects a team hopes will become players years from now. By then, the Devils may need a defensemen. Is Lagesson a wise choice at that point? I question whether defenseman known for being defensive is all that valuable? Triumph at Driving Play argues quite well that the "defensive defenseman" who does little more than defend well doesn't provide much value to a team. While Triumph was talking about NHL players, the general concept could apply to prospects. Lagesson's production may suggest he's more than that now, but what about the future? Especially in a league where a good defenseman would have to be able to be good in their own end and contribute something going forward, whether it's making a good first pass or controlling the puck decently beyond being particularly offensive. Can Lagesson fit that general concept? I'm not so sure.
Perhaps those who have seen him more would be willing to share more about Lagesson. So what do you think? If you're like me and most, then what do you think having read what is there to say about him at the moment? Do you think he is a player on the rise after a season mostly with the U-20 team and a strong World U-18 tournament? Or do you think he is a player who's doing well now but may not do so well later on? Would you want the Devils to draft him if he's available when the Devils draft him? When do you think he will be drafted? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about William Lagesson in the comments. Thank you for reading.