Anton Lundell – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

The Hockey Writers 2020 NHL Entry Draft Guide

Anton Lundell

2019-20 Team: HIFK

Date of Birth: Oct. 3, 2001

Place of Birth: Espoo, Finland

Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 185 pounds

Shoots: Left

Position: C

NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible

Rankings

As Finland’s top prospect in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, Anton Lundell is perhaps the most well-rounded player available. But despite his high draft ranking and impressive track record, Lundell remains a puzzling player, at least for some pundits.

The 6-foot-1 centre is currently having a strong year for HIFK of the Finnish Liiga, having posted 10 goals and 18 assists for a total of 28 points through 44 games. He’s backed up that strong production with equally impressive underlying numbers (his 62.8 percent Corsi for leads HIFK), suggesting that he’s been dominant in every zone. The production was there for Lundell last season, too, as he tallied 9 goals and 19 points in 38 games for HIFK as a 17-year-old. To put up these kinds of numbers in a pro league playing against men is no small feat, which is why he’s caught the eye of so many scouts.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

When you watch Lundell play, there are a couple of things that stand out almost immediately. First and foremost, he seems to always be in the right spot at the right time. He’s not the fleetest of foot (though he skates well enough), but he uses his excellent hockey sense and anticipation to read the play. He often scores goals by getting to the open space at just the right time, and he consistently makes quick, smart passes to set up his teammates.

With his relatively strong frame, Lundell excels down low in the cycle, always making intelligent plays to maintain possession for his team. The positional awareness and poise that he possesses are exceedingly rare to see from such a young player, which is why he is considered to be a relatively “safe” pick — a near guarantee to develop into at least a second-line centre in the NHL.

Anton Lundell IFK Helsinki
Anton Lundell is poised to be a top-10 pick at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. (Photo by Samuli Seila/IFK Helsinki)

However, because Lundell is so committed to smart positioning and strong defensive play, he’s been criticized for a lack of offensive “flash.” Without that one standout skill that most top prospects have, he’s sometimes written off as more of a potential middle-six than top-six centre.

Corey Pronman of The Athletic ranks Lundell at No. 16 and provides a glimpse into this stance: “I’ve watched Lundell closely for three years – seeing him live at least 20 times and many more on video – and I still have no idea what to make of him. When I watch him play nothing about his game stands out. I think his skating is average and his skill is just above-average.” (from: “Pronman: Ranking the 2020 NHL Draft top prospects at midseason” – The Athletic – Jan. 29, 2020)

On the other hand, Pronman’s colleague Scott Wheeler is higher on Lundell and offers an explanation as to why he may be a misunderstood talent: “The idea that has been floated out there in the public and private sphere that he doesn’t have high-end offensive tools is bogus. We often mistake versatility or a sound two-way game as meaning Player X may project in a third-line role. And while that’s true for some players, it’s a long way from an honest assessment of Lundell’s game.” (from: “Wheeler: Midseason ranking for the 2020 NHL Draft’s top 62 prospects” – The Athletic – Feb. 19, 2020)

Ultimately, what you can expect from Lundell is a complete 200-foot game, smart decision making with and without the puck, and a knack for finding the back of the net. Couple that with his track record of producing in a men’s league and you can see why he is so highly touted.

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Anton Lundell – NHL Draft Projection

The draft rankings on Lundell vary from 6th to 13th, and it’s hard to say exactly how valid the aforementioned criticisms are. He also missed this year’s World Juniors due to injury, which may have caused him to fall in the eyes of some scouts. But as a skilled, responsible centre with the size that looks to safely slot in as at least a second liner, you have to think that a team will snag Lundell in the top-10.

Quotables

“It’s hard to deny how much he scores everywhere he goes, especially versus men in Liiga the last two seasons, and how much coaches seem to trust him. I like his hockey sense a lot and think he competes very well.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic (from: “Pronman: Ranking the 2020 NHL Draft top prospects at midseason” – The Athletic – Jan. 29, 2020)

“When you grow up idolizing smart and responsible two-way centers like Datsyuk and Barkov, it’s no surprise you end up playing a similar style as those two. Lundell is the type of player who never cheats for offense, and just like his idols, he can make a lot of things happen offensively while at the same time being very responsible defensively.” – Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects

“Anton Lundell might not have a massive ceiling, but he could be a fantastic two-way centre who may not get fans out of their seats often, but he could be a person hockey nerds and coaches alike love.” – Will Scouch, Scouching.ca

Strengths

  • Hockey IQ
  • Puck protection
  • Passing and vision
  • Shooting

Improvements

  • Skating speed
  • Offensive creativity

NHL Potential

Depending on who you ask, Lundell’s ceiling is either first- or second-line centre, with the floor likely around the third line. It remains to be seen if he can improve his skating and add a touch more offensive flair, which would make him a likely first-line lock.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 1.5/5, Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offence – 8/10, Defence – 9/10

Awards/Achievements

Along with his individual ability, Lundell has a record of team success, already winning two international gold medals with Finland. As the youngest player on the team, he was deployed as the second-line centre at the 2019 World Juniors, tallying one goal and four points through seven games.

Lundell finished the 2019-20 Liiga season as the highest-scoring player under the age of 19.

Interviews/Links

Video

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