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Fabian Lysell: 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Speed Kills, but Does it Draft Well?

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In today’s draft profile, we look at a Swedish winger with some amazing talent. He has incredible speed and stickhandling abilities, things you cannot teach. What will that do for his draft status?

Welcome to another prospect profile here at AATJ! Today, we have one of the top Swedish forwards in the 2021 draft class, right winger and pure speedster Fabian Lysell. He most likely won’t be the top Swede drafted, but he has a shot to be in the top 3-5 Swedes drafted, and considering how that country consistently produces top level NHL talent year after year, that gives Lysell a good chance to go fairly high in this draft. Many rankings have him in the top 10, but a fair amount have him ranked somewhere between 10-15 as well. A select few even have him inside the top 5, and that means he’s worthy to look into, as our New Jersey Devils are picking 4th. If even one analyst has him in the top 5, then you can be sure the Devils will have done a deep dive into him. So, let’s take a look.

Who is Fabian Lysell?

-LINK TO ELITE PROSPECTS STATS-

According to Elite Prospects, Lysell stands at 5’10 and weighs 172 pounds. That gives him a decent frame by which to build off of, but he is by no means a larger prospect. He might want to add some muscle to that frame in order to handle the tough areas of the ice at the NHL level. However, Lysell is known for his speed and ability to handle the puck on the fly. The kid can fly up and down the ice, meaning he probably won’t ever get too big if he wants to keep that as the highlight of his game. He has played the majority of his career so far in the Frölunda HC system, which is where 2020 #4 overall pick Lucas Raymond came from, along with the likes of Rasmus Dahlin, Erik Karlsson, Daniel Alfresson, and more. It is a top tier organization, and growing up there is a bonus. He worked his way up through the ranks, performing well in U16s, and then J18s, and then J20s before finally getting some SHL time this past season.

In his initial move up to J18 in 2018-19, he came right out of the gate with 11 points in 9 games in the J18 Elit league, and another 8 points in 11 games in the J18 Allsvenskan league. The following year, 2019-20, he crushed it in the J18 Elit, with 34 points in 14 games, good for 2.42 points per game. That got him a promotion to J20, where he had 6 points in 11 games in the J20 SuperElit. This past season, he started strong in J20, posting 13 points in 11 games before requesting a trade to a club that would give him playing time in the SHL, something Frölunda was not giving him. He got what he wanted, and ended up playing the remainder of the season in the SHL for Luleå HC. His numbers don’t look fabulous there, with only 3 points in 26 games played, but in reality, just the fact that he was given that many games in the SHL this year, and has gained that experience, is a huge bonus for his draft prospects. He was not demoted by Luleå; instead, they gave him plenty of experience as an 18 year old in one of the top professional leagues out there, even if it was mostly fourth line experience. You would almost be a fool not to expect definitive growth in his offensive output next season. He has shown to be more than capable of it. And a full year of play in the SHL next year, which is on tap at the moment, will do wonders for his growth, and has to make NHL teams excited about what he can be capable of in the near future.

Beyond club play, Fabian also has considerable experience on the international stage for Team Sweden. The most important of that experience was his participation in the U18 World Junior Championships this past year, where in 7 games for Team Sweden, he had 9 points, 3 goals and 6 assists. Sweden won the bronze. The year prior, he had 7 points in 5 games in the World Hockey Challenge for U17, and another 13 points in 13 games in International Junior competition. All-in-all, this is invaluable experience for him in terms of his draft profile, as it shows that he is capable and successful outside of the club setting, and can succeed on the world stage.

Where is Lysell Ranked?

The draft class this year makes things really interesting for someone like Lysell. Without there being a true consensus in the top 10, or even the top 5 actually, someone like Lysell has a fairly decent spread on expectations in terms of where he will be drafted. It isn’t like mid-round players, who can be projected to go in the 2nd round by one analyst and the 5th round by another, but for a first round prospect, his spread is still interesting. There are about as many rankings with him in the top 10 as there are with him outside of it. WIth him, it really all depends on how much analysts care about his speed.

-Central Scouting’s final rankings have him as the #9 ranked European skater heading into the draft. Weirdly enough, this is one of the lowest rankings you will see for Fabian. Usually, with CS breaking things down between NA skaters and Euro skaters, someone’s CS rankings will look better than on a big board, but for Fabian, it looks worse.

-Elite Prospects has him ranked #7 overall, and the 3rd Swede, behind William Eklund and goalie Jesper Wallstedt.

-Future Considerations is similar to Elite, having him #10 overall and the 4th Swede, behind Eklund, Wallstedt, and Simon Edvinsson.

-McKeen’s currently puts him #9 overall and the 3rd Swede, this time ahead of Eklund but behind Wallstedt and Edvinsson.

-Dobber Prospects is the highest on Fabian, ranking him #3 overall, behind only Matthew Beniers and fellow Swede William Eklund.

-Sportsnet, on the other hand, is one of the lowest on Lysell, ranking him #11 overall, and the 3rd Swede, behind Edvinsson and Eklund.

-The Draft Analyst is the lowest on him outside of the extreme outliers, putting him #14 overall, but still the 3rd ranked Swede, as he has Edvinsson 22nd overall.

-The Hockey Writers has him #11 overall and the 4th ranked Swede.

-Craig Button is the extreme outlier. He has Lysell ranked #27 overall. I would expect he goes a lot sooner than this.

-Bob McKenzie has a more normal ranking on Lysell, putting him #12 overall. Not exactly high on him, but not crazy low on him like Button.

What Others Have Said About Lysell

The Last Word on Sports has their scouting report up on Lysell, written by Ben Kerr. Here are snippets about what he said about each area of his game, but definitely check out the whole piece:

-Skating: “one of the best skaters in this year’s draft”...”Lysell is lightning quick, getting past his man and into an area to create a scoring chance”...”top-end speed is also excellent”...”agility and edgework are also outstanding”...”able to make quick cuts and changes in direction”.

-Offensive Game: “pairs his outstanding skating with excellent puck handling skills. He can handle the puck while moving at top speed. That makes him very good in transition”...”has excellent vision. His quick hands change angles for the puck and create passing lanes”...”while he is more of a playmaking winger than a shooter, Lysell can score goals as well. He has a quick and deceptive release on his wrist shot.”

-Defensive Game: “he backchecks hard and supports the defence down low”...”lack of size and strength make him vulnerable to bigger and stronger opponents”...”quick stick that is good at stealing”...”strong positionally.”

-Projection and Comparison: “projects as a possible first-line winger in the NHL. His advanced defensive game and that fact that he has already been playing against men mean that he may be NHL ready quickly. However, he likely needs to spend at least one more season in Sweden.”

Ben has a stylistic comparison to Mitch Marner. Overall, he is high on Lysell’s game, praising his skating, obviously, as well as a very well developed defensive game despite his size. He also loves his stick handling, and the fact that he can handle the puck so well even at high speeds.

Dobber Prospects had their updates throughout the season on Lysell, with scouting reports in December before his trade and call up to the SHL, and again afterwards in February. As written by Tony Ferrari:

“Lysell’s greatest attribute is his skating, with speed to burn and the agility to adjust and play through traffic. He is an excellent puck handler and can make moves at high speed, as well as in tight around the net. He Lacks size and strength but does a good job of protecting the puck on his outside hip while looking to make a play. Lysell hunts pucks while closing quickly on the forecheck and does well to evade defenders in confined spaces by using his low center of gravity to get underneath checks. Able to turn on a dime due to his great edges and ability to transfer weight quickly, Lysell is slippery along the boards. He is a responsible defensive player who supports the play well in the offensive zone and does an even better job of tracking the play in defensive transition, taking intelligent angles in pursuit.”

After playing in the SHL, Tony had an update, where he notes that despite the low scoring totals, Lysell has done plenty to deserve his spot in the lineup night in and night out. A little quote: “his ability to affect the game away from the puck has kept him in Luleå’s lineup. He does so many of the little things right and he has been generating more and more chances offensively as he’s acclimated. He plays with a pace unmatched in the draft class, attacking each play like it’s game seven.”

Smaht Scouting had a scouting report on Lysell back in November before he was traded to Luleå, but still has a good description on his game. Some quotables, both positive and negative: “dynamic is an understatement when it comes to Lysell. His combination of hands and speed are breathtaking”...”not only can he carve through a whole team, but when he gets to the slot or goal-mouth he is clinical”...”his wrist-shot is lethal, and his back-hand is among the best of any draft eligible”...”he can find his teammates anywhere on the ice”...”can over-do things in terms of trying one move too many”...”puck-management being more consistent is a must.”

Overall, Smaht is very high on Lysell, calling him a top 10 talent, and this was before he gained his SHL experience. Some might choose to drop him because he did not score much in the SHL, but others will instead see that as a positive, gaining all of that experience and playing well enough to not be demoted despite being only 18 years old. I think that is where you get the discrepancy between those who have him in the top 10 and those who have him ranked 11-15.

Future Considerations had short profiles on several prospects early on in the season, and had one for Lysell as well. Here is what they wrote back in October:

Fabian Lysell is the type of player that is alone worth the price of admission. He is a truly electric talent, using his fantastic speed, hands and hockey sense to blaze around the ice and make dramatic things happen. He is a machine when it comes to zone exits and entries, taking no time at all to hit his excellent top gear while also having the hands and the crossovers to smoothly dart around or through traffic. Not only can he play fast, he also knows where to go and where his teammates are headed. Even more impressive, he’s not just blindly trying to go fast all the time, as he picks the right situations to stop, curl and set things up for his team in the offensive zone. He’s equally as dangerous in the cycle as on the rush, as he can circle the zone and play keep-away with the puck until he finds an opening. His passes are crisp and accurate, and he can make backhands, saucers and backhand sauces all look easy. He makes the job of opposing defenders extra difficult thanks to a great motor and a competitive focus, allowing him to go for a second end-to-end rush in a single shift if the first one doesn’t pan out. He also routinely applies his motor and work ethic on the backcheck. He lacks size and strength, but his elite awareness and slipperiness should mitigate that problem even after he moves to smaller ice. There is, however, one major knock on Lysell, and that’s his shot. None of his wrist shot, slapper or one-timer have the power or quickness coming off of his stick to be dangerous, and it’s hard to see that changing long-term. Any goals he scores will primarily have to come from carving or sneaking his way to the home plate. Lysell is easily one of the most purely skilled forwards in this draft, and will be selected accordingly.”

A Little Video

This first video works, but for some reason, it won’t embed, so click the link here to check out some highlights.

Here is a shift by shift from February:

Some highlights and quotes about Lysell:

Here is a scouting report from The Scouching Report, analyzing his game and showing some clips:

My Take

I think there are two questions here for us: one, is he going to be good, and two, should the Devils be considering him at 4. In terms of the latter question, I think the answer is no. The Devils spent both of their #1 overall picks over the last few seasons on playmaking forwards who work best by distributing and creating offense for others as well as themselves. Alexander Holtz was different, he is a pure goal scorer, but Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier are playmaking guys. I don’t think spending another top 5 pick on a playmaker is the right move. Lysell is somewhat different, he generates offense with his speed and stickhandling, but nonetheless the outcome is similar in that he would be good on a line with other goal scorers where he can work his magic. The Devils need a lot of things, but another top tier playmaker is not one of them.

That being said, as to the other question, I like his game and I do think he has a good chance to be successful in the NHL one day. Lysell has an extremely high motor, and plays a 200 foot game that way, giving it his all every second out there, whether on offense or defense. That is something every player should do, but not enough do. He does, and he does it well. His speed and stickhandling abilities at top speed are tantalizing, and that talent is very hard to come by. He is the type of guy to wow you with some real special plays that most players, even at the NHL level, cannot make. And for coaches, that has to be enticing, which is why I could easily see him going in the top 10. I also think the SHL experience is a positive, not a knock, despite his poor point totals there this year. Give him another year to develop, and he will be playing much better there next year, in a top pro league against men and professionals. The experience is invaluable.

Given all that, would I be upset if the Devils scouting department and coaching staff decided to grab him at 4? No. How can you be upset that a team wants to secure that level of talent and ability? It makes sense. I just think in terms of needs for this organization, a speedy playmaker is low on the list. A top 4 defenseman (more than one honestly) is much more of a need, both in New Jersey and in the system, and the team can still use more pure goal scorers, even with Holtz in the wings. I would look for those first before I look for a playmaker.

That being said, I don’t get the analysts who have him low, like Craig Button. 27th? If he falls out of the top 10, any team that grabs him will have gotten a steal in my opinion. You can’t teach speed.

Your Take

What do you think about Fabian Lysell? Are you intrigued by his speed and playmaking abilities? Or do those not excite you? How much importance should a team place on those skills, especially when they are all-world? How does that affect his draft position in your opinion? Do you think he is a top 10 guy? Top 5? Is he someone the Devils should consider? Why or why not? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading another prospect profile here at AATJ!