Lucas Wallmark THW Close-Up
European players are always fun to watch develop. The higher-end Europeans tend to play against men sooner than their North American counterparts, giving a sense of how well they can battle against fully-grown adults. While he may not be an elite prospect who thrives in a men’s league, Sweden’s Lucas Wallmark has put together a very strong season.
Wallmark is one of the youngest players in the 2013 draft class. He’s just 17 and won’t turn 18 until early September. He split his season between Skellefteå AIK’s junior and professional teams, then was loaned to Karlskrona HK in HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s secondary league. He put up very good numbers in junior (more than a point-per-game) and was slightly under a point-per-game with Karlskrona, despite the fact he was playing against men. He was also reportedly excellent during the relegation playoffs.
Other than his youth, the other notable thing about Wallmark is his size. He’s still growing and he’s a skinny guy at six-feet and 175 pounds. While that may be a draw-back, he’s succeeded despite this. Scouts and other observers have noted that Wallmark is a tireless worker on the ice who is relentless when it comes to attempting to create offense. He’s been touted as a strong, maybe a shade under “elite,” all-around player with very good vision. The fact that he’s managed to showcase these aspects of his game in a professional men’s league is an encouraging sign.
Wallmark isn’t quite a “home-run” pick. He’s still a tad small, but he’s younger than almost everyone available in the draft and that he’s accomplished what he has in HockeyAllsvenskan at 17 is impressive. If he can continue to develop his game and can adjust to the smaller North American ice, he may turn out to be a great dark horse pick.
“The Swedes took bronze at the Ivan Hlinka and it was Wallmark driving the bus offensively the whole tourney. The gifted pivot led the team in scoring with four goals and seven points in five games, including the game-tying goal in the final victory over the Czechs. No surprise then that vision is one of his strengths, not to mention special teams” – Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News)
Wallmark will be part of Team Sweden at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships and won a bronze medal with Sweden at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. He’s also represented Sweden at a bunch of junior-aged European tournaments throughout his teens.
Risk 1/5, Reward 4/5
If he can adjust to the smaller North American ice without a drop-off, Wallmark projects to be a top-six center.
- A good all-around player
- Great vision
- Good passer and play-maker
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- Adding some size to compete against bigger players on smaller North American ice
- Working on consistency
- Continuing to improve defensive play
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive 8.5/10, Defensive 7/10
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
Wallmark projects to potentially be a Mikael Backlund type player (maybe a bit undersized, but talented) or, best-case, perhaps closer to a Nicklas Backstrom.