The Boston Bruins have one prospect competing at this year’s World Juniors Championships, which begins Sunday, Dec. 26, in Alberta. Fabian Lysell, the team’s 2021 first-round selection, was selected to compete for Team Sweden earlier this month. Lysell has been having a phenomenal season with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and joins a talented group of forwards on Team Sweden, arguably one of the strongest groups to watch at this year’s tournament.
His inclusion on a deep team like Sweden bodes well for the Bruins, who are in desperate need of “homegrown” forwards to start making the leap to the NHL, and Lysell is trending in the right direction.
Lysell’s 2021-22 Season
Lysell was selected 21st overall by the Bruins, and his scouting reports noted his ability to be an offensive contributor and his quick puck-moving skills, but he was also considered undersized (although the Bruins have found success with slightly undersized skaters) and needed to learn how to keep his game simple. The right-winger was predicted to go higher, maybe even in the top 10, but eventually fell to the Bruins at 21.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney had this to say after Lysell signed his entry-level contract in August:
Fabian is a talented young player, and we look forward to working with Fabian throughout the development process.(from, “Fabian Lysell Named to Swedish World Junior Team,” BostonBruins.com, Dec. 8. 2021)
The development process seems to be going very well. The adjustment from playing on the larger European rinks to the North American/NHL-sized rink can be difficult for young players. But Lysell doesn’t seem to have missed a beat. If anything, he’s playing better in the WHL than he did last season in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and under-20 league.
After a decent training camp and preseason in Boston, Lysell made the transition to playing in North America. In his first season with the Giants, he has 28 points in 23 games, including 11 goals. He’s second on the team in points and tied for the team-lead in goals. He is also a plus-11.
In 2020-21, Lysell had only three points in 26 SHL games and 13 points in 11 games in the J20 Nationell League in Sweden. He is improving and growing, and making Team Sweden ticks another important box in his development.
What Lysell Brings to Team Sweden
While they aren’t as hyped as Team Canada, USA, or Russia, Team Sweden has enough talent to make things interesting and will be fun to watch. Bruins fans will not regret tuning in to watch Lysell and the rest of his team.
Lysell is slotted in to be the right-wing on the second line, which should give him plenty of minutes and opportunity to shine. It’s a chance for him to build on a great WHL season and establish himself as the Bruins’ top prospect behind Jack Studnicka.
Last year, at the U18 World Juniors Championship, Lysell had three goals and nine points in seven games to help Sweden win the bronze medal.
Bruins’ Lack of Prospects at World Juniors
The Bruins don’t have a deep prospect pool, and their lack of presence at this year’s (one player) and last year’s (two players) World Juniors reflects that. As a fairly reliable playoff presence in the past decade, Boston hasn’t had many high-end picks. But given that the Carolina Hurricanes have 10 prospects in the tournament and are in first place in the Metropolitan Division (with the best win percentage in the league) and made the playoffs the last three seasons, it’s not a great excuse. However, the Hurricanes tied the record for the most prospects from one NHL team at the tournament.
Many successful NHL players never played in the World Junior tournament, but it would be nice to see a stronger Bruins presence since it’s also a good indication of who is getting close to being NHL ready. At the moment, few players in the organization’s system are ready to be full-time players in Boston.
Drafting has not been Sweeney’s strong suit. Since taking over the job in 2015, only picks Charlie McAvoy and Ryan Lindgren, who was traded to the New York Rangers as part of the deadline deal for Rick Nash in 2018, have played significant time in the NHL. Trent Frederic earned his opportunity but hasn’t established himself quite as much.
So, while it’s exciting to see Lysell succeed this season and it will be fun to see what he can do at the tournament, there is still a huge question mark about who will be passed the baton when Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand retire. On defense, the team has McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, and Jeremy Swayman has a bright future (and present), but offense continues to be the main concern.
Make sure to follow along with The Hockey Writers’ World Juniors team throughout this year’s tournament.
All Your THW 2022 World Junior Championship Coverage
I’m Hannah Garfield, a graduate of Elon University with degrees in Film and Media Analytics. Currently, I’m pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting at Boston University. I’m a lifelong, passionate Boston sports fan and love all things Bruins.