Who is Jens Lööke?
Jens Looke is a Swedish winger who currently plays for Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League. Having worked his way up through Sweden's junior ranks, Looke broke into Sweden's highest league this past year as a 17-year-old. The winger was also selected to represent Sweden at the most recent World Junior Championships and made an impact, despite being the youngest player on the team and getting somewhat limited ice time, scoring three goals in seven games. He isn't what you'd call a big player, but coming in at 6'-0" and 187 pounds means he definitely isn't small either. Looke's numbers to this point in his career are shown below.
The numbers don't immediately knock you off your feet, but Looke has been putting up at least solid numbers at all levels and pretty quickly jumping up Sweden's ranks. Rarely will a 17-year-old put up a large number of points in the SHL, so the low point total there shouldn't get anyone too worried, but just playing 43 games with the professionals and holding his own is enough to make him a solid prospect. Sifting through all of the rankings, Looke's stock has floated around on draft boards over the course of the year, but the general consensus seems to have landed somewhere in the mid-second round range. He was ranked 10th among European skaters by the NHL's Central Scouting, 51st in Corey Pronman's top 100 at ESPN, 46th by TSN's Craig Button, and was 48th in Bob McKenzie's mid-term rankings.
Looke is regarded best for his abilities as a puckhandler and a playmaker. His passing is strong and he is touted for his vision in the offensive zone and always being able to find passing lanes. He can stickhandle well in traffic and his quick, shifty skating allows him to buy time on offense to make plays. He isn't necessarily known for his shot, but has definitely shown the ability to score while advancing through the Swedish leagues. His defense isn't mentioned too much in among the reports out there, but some have mentioned that he does need to improve away from the puck to an extent. Overall, he appears to have solid potential as a playmaker at the next level.
What Others Are Saying About Jens Lööke
To get an idea what the general feelings are on Looke, we'll start off with what Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects has to say in Looke's profile blurb (from 2014):
A smooth skating winger with tremendous playmaking ability. Possesses good puckhandling skills and can weave his way into the offensive end and make plays on a consistent basis. In terms of passing, he can find a seam in a fog; don't be fooled into thinking he is simply a passer, as he also exhibits a very sneaky, erratic shot that often finds its way to the back of the net. All-in-all, a smart, offensive winger that is poised with the puck and makes creative on-ice decisions that lead to dangerous scoring chances.
So Looke seems like a forward with pretty strong offensive instincts in general. The ability to see plays developing and make creative passes is a tough skill to teach, so that is a big plus. It's also good that he is not strictly seen as a passer, but also someone who can finish if need be.
Next from The Hockey News, comes this short bit on Looke's World Juniors performance:
A really energetic player for Sweden at the world juniors, Looke was the youngest skater on the squad but still tallied three goals in seven games. Fast with great hands and a willingness to go to the net, Looke will have to improve his on-ice awareness, but there’s a great motor there to work with.
This is a bit of an interesting contrast to a lot of the other articles on Looke, as it mentions his speed and willingness to go to the net rather than his playmaking, while saying his awareness could use some work. This probably follows directly from the three goals Looke scored for Sweden at WJCs, which involved Looke finding space around the net and hammering pucks home.
Next comes a blurb from Future Considerations on Looke's play in the SHL:
Looke has been really impressive to start this season in the Swedish League producing points and making an impact. He is a playmaker who has quick hands, good vision and works hard to create offensive chances. Defensively, Looke tries to stay in position but has the size, skill and skating to be an NHL player but will never be confused with a physically imposing player like [fellow Swedish prospect, Filip] Ahl.
One thing that carries through all of the scouting reports is that Looke has a good set of hands. It seems he can handle the puck as well as almost any of the prospects out there heading into the draft. Also good to see here that while his defense is not necessarily his main selling point, it is something that he is not necessarily a minus in, either.
Lastly, we'll take a look at some excerpts from a nice profile done by Shawn Reznik of The Hockey Writers:
The young Swede from Galve is most dangerous along the perimeter. He has dazzling footwork that can stop on a dime and change direction before the defender knows what hit him. Looke pairs that agility with quick dangles that allow him time to find teammates lurking around the net. While his passing is typically spot on, he does tend to pass at ill-advised points in the game from time to time. Always looking for that perfect pass can lead to turnovers and rushes the other way.
His commitment to forechecking is also one of his best aspects. He always wants the opportunity to create and that can only happen when he has the puck, so his speed allows him to chase opponents down and transition the game back into the offensive zone.
I really do like the package of shiftiness and great passing in a player. Looke seems like the type of player who could end up one of those guys who can frustrate teams by being tough to separate from the puck. He will have to adjust his passing to the higher skill levels in the NHL, where passing lanes are that much tighter, to be successful, though. Always good to see a winger who can initiate a good forecheck, too.
It's tough to find too much video out there on Looke, as good video is a little more sparse for European prospects, but here's a nice video by YouTube user bigwhite06 of his highlights from World Juniors:
One thing that jumps out to me is that whether it is passing or shooting, he can make very quick decisions with the puck. People play up the fact that he is a playmaker, so it makes sense that he'd be confident in his instincts. Some highlights include some decent work on the forecheck from Looke, as well.
Like I said, there is limited video out there (at least that I could find), but if you happen to speak Swedish, here's an interview with Looke about his experience at World Juniors from hockeysverige.se. He also apparently roomed with Leafs top prospect William Nylander while he was there, which is fun.
An Opinion of Sorts
The Devils are a team in need of prospects to fill many different forward roles in their system. If they are looking for a playmaker, Jens Looke seems like he will be a decent option when the Devils two picks in the second round arrive. I don't know that he will be my top pick when number 36 or even 41 rolls around, but the Devils could do worse for themselves at that point. Looke doesn't necessarily have top speed or an elite shot, but he skates well, and his quickness and his abilities as a talented playmaker make him an attractive player. His defensive play seems like it's more in the average category, but it also doesn't seem like a major hole. Ultimately, I think he could be a slight reach where the Devils are in the second round, but I wouldn't necessarily hate the pick there (depending on what came before him). If he slides into the third round, then I think he is definitely a player New Jersey has to take a look at drafting.
So after reading about him, what are your feelings on Jens Looke? Would you like to see the Devils take the Swedish playmaker on draft day? Anything in particular that concerns you about him? Would you be okay with the team taking him in round two or would you strictly want to wait and see if he dropped to the third? Comment with your thoughts below and thanks for reading.