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Isac Lundeström: 2018 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

A two-way center with experience at left wing, Isac Lundeström presents an option of bolstering the forward pipeline with a professionally-experienced Swedish prospect.

Hello, and welcome to a new day of All About the Jersey 2018 NHL Draft Profiles. Today, we will be taking a look at a Swedish-born center - Isac Lundeström of Luleå HF in the Swedish Hockey League.

Who is Isac Lundeström?: Lundeström is listed at 6’0” and 185 pounds, and he has a left shot. He was born November 6, 1999. Given his ability to hang around with players in the top Swedish league, he might be one of the more interesting prospects in terms of NHL-readiness. He profiles as a two-way center that does not have the offensive flash we’ve seen from other European forwards recently drafted by the New Jersey Devils, but has good hockey sense.

Where is he ranked?: Isac Lundeström is ranked:

What This Means: There’s a decent probability that Isac Lundeström will be around when the New Jersey Devils are on the clock at 17th overall. Due to his reputed hockey sense, however, I think he is slightly more likely be picked before Ray Shero can think about doing so, rather than after.

From my reading, this doesn’t seem to be a very center-heavy draft, so Lundeström’s stock could benefit from that. Though, while it seems he improved from last season, Lundeström’s ranking declined from his midterm ranking by NHL Central Scouting amongst European skaters, from three to eight. In that ranking, he was overtaken by one European center - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - who went from nine in the midterm rankings to six in the final ones. So, Lundeström does not have as much of a stock advantage over other Europeans as he once did.

Should the Devils select him, if afforded the opportunity?: While Lundeström might be closer than most in this class to being NHL-ready, he doesn’t have the top end skill that makes a prospect extremely intriguing. The New Jersey Devils are, relatively speaking, pretty set at center. Due to the plethora of options down the middle now and for the future that John Hynes and Ray Shero have, I think they would have to be getting a top-end offensive talent at center to use their first-round pick on one.

Even if he’s only one or two years away from being able to contribute at an NHL level, I don’t think there’s as much utility to be had in picking a safe two-way center as a higher-end offensive winger or defenseman. In 42 games for Luleå HF this past season, he had six goals and nine assists with 14 penalty minutes. This means he ranked eighth on the team in points, while playing a majority of games.

What others have to say about him: Here’s what Ben Kerr at Last Word on Hockey had to say about him.

Lundestrom has high-end hockey IQ and always seems to make the right play. While he is not outstanding in any one area, his skills are good in almost all areas. Lundestrom has good vision and passing skills. He also has the soft hands, and the agility to beat defenders in one-on-one situations, as well as to make a quick move to open up a passing or shooting lane. Lundestrom is also willing to play a gritty game, battling hard on the forecheck, forcing turnovers and creating scoring chances.

This excerpt gets to the core of why Lundeström is a safe pick for the New Jersey Devils, or any other team that considers him. He’s not going to light the lamp like a top-line player (in part due to his pass-first nature) might be able to. He’s good for the defensive aspects of the game, and he is willing to use his body. His two-way ability might be able to make up for any offensive shortcomings his game might have. And if he doesn’t rise to his best-case outcome as a second line center, he might be able to play as a slightly-undersized checking center with capability as a depth scorer, with potential for contributions to a team’s penalty kill if he can continue to improve defensively. For more looks on him, here’s Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst.

Lundestrom owns an excellent shot with a quick release. He requires little backswing to get velocity on his slapper, and he can pick corners from the tightest of angles. Making neat plays on the backhand comes easy for Lundestrom, who can be deployed to solve problems in any situation. His speed and balance allow him to power through defenders, and the decisions he makes thereafter seem to always make sense. Lundestrom is a battler who won’t shy away from physical play and does so in a clean, disciplined manner.

While he was able to power through defensemen in the Swedish Hockey League, I would not expect him to always have the same success rate when it comes to risk taking in the National Hockey League, though his hard-nosed play translates well to the smaller dimensions of North America, in terms of his willingness to play that style.

A Little Video:

Here, I think that the video backs up a lot of what was said about him in scouting reports. My favorite part of this video is the section from 2:40 to 3:13. The combination of shots, hits in the offensive zone, and forechecking reminds me of the style of Blake Coleman with the Devils this past year. While Lundeström’s ceiling is higher than Coleman, that came to my mind when watching the video.

Analysis and Opinion: Lundeström, given the play in the video, might best fit onto a line that likes to cycle the puck in the offensive zone. In the NHL, with less ice surface to work with, he will have to get stronger - maybe about 15 or so pounds heavier to compete on the boards. He will be able to outskate fewer defensemen, and could learn from the play of someone like Travis Zajac when it comes to being strong on the puck along the boards. My fear for picking him, however, lies in that very line. I don’t think he has the size to play that style against top-six competition in the NHL, and that his high-end outcome would be better described as a middle-six, gritty center with playmaking skills rather than a solidly top-six forward. This isn’t a lottery pick, so a middle-six center would be a pretty good outcome for this pick, but I highly doubt that Lundeström will be the best pick-available when the Devils are on the clock. And since he might not have the best utility in the Devils’ pipeline as a center, I wouldn’t be enthused about picking him. I think that Shero has a draft philosophy of picking for the highest ceilings, so I don’t think that Lundeström will be our pick, ultimately. But, he’s an option.

Your Thoughts: What do you think of this take on Isac Lundeström? Do you agree? Do you disagree? What in his video catches your eye? How do you think you would grade picking him if the Devils were to theoretically do it? Given what has been said about him, and the opinion you formed on him, who is he comparable to in terms of skill and style, in your opinion? Do you think he’s a top-six player? Leave your thoughts below, and thanks for reading.