Today’s trip around the world of NHL prospects starts in Sweden, where a New York Rangers hopeful received a big honor. The Montreal Canadiens signed one of their top prospects to an entry-level deal. Finally, one of the Frozen Four teams will be missing some key players heading into their biggest game of the season.
Nils Lundkvist Wins the Salming Trophy
The Swedish Hockey League (SHL) has begun to hand out its postseason awards, including the Salming Trophy. This award, named after former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Borje Salming, is given to the SHL’s best defenseman as voted by the hockey writers.
This year’s Salming Trophy went to Lundkvist, the Rangers’ 2018 first-round (28th overall) draft pick. The 20-year-old puck-moving blueliner played in all 52 games for Lulea HF. He scored 14 goals and 32 points while averaging over 20 minutes per game.
“Despite his young years, Nils is already a complete player who will get even better,” Salming told Lulea’s official website. “He moves the puck quickly and has a toxic shot on the power play. He is effective in his own zone. It’s so easy for Nils.”
Other former and current NHL players who have won the Salming Trophy since its inception in 2008 include Marcus Ragnarsson, Magnus Johansson, David Rundblad and Mattias Ekholm.
Jan Mysak Signs with the Canadiens
Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin continues to lock up his top prospects as he has signed Mysak to a three-year, entry-level contract. The NHL contract does not begin until the start 2021-22 season, so he will continue to play in the American Hockey League (AHL), on an amateur tryout (ATO) contract, with the Laval Rocket.
The Canadiens drafted Mysak in the second round (48th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He had one impressive short stint in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) last season. In 25 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs, he scored 15 goals and 25 points. He has 68 games of experience in the Czech Republic’s top professional league with HC Litvinov, scoring eight goals and 17 points.
The 18-year-old forward has represented his country twice at the World Junior Championship. He has shown off an impressive shot but needs to work on the little things to get to the NHL level, as do most players at this stage of their career. His time in the AHL has gone a long way in overall development. Mysak has two goals in his 13 games for the Rocket as he adjusts to the North American style of hockey.
UMass Down Four Players
This year’s NCAA tournament has been marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Lawrence, the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame all had to withdraw from the tournament after positive COVID-19 tests. Now, one of the participants in the Frozen Four will be without four of their players.
On Tuesday, the University of Massachusetts (UMass) announced that forwards Carson Gicewicz and Jerry Harding and goaltenders Henry Graham and Filip Lindberg would all miss Thursday’s national semifinal game against Minnesota-Duluth.
“I feel for these players who have sacrificed so much over the last year and committed themselves to getting our team to this point,” said Umass head coach Greg Carvel. “They have earned the right to compete for a national championship, and to have this unfortunate situation occur now is hard to comprehend. But nevertheless, it’s a result that we have to accept, and we will move forward together and utilize the depth of our roster for Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh.”
Gicewicz led the Minutemen with 17 goals this season and was third in overall scoring with 24 points. Harding chipped in with two goals and six points. Lindberg, the 2019 seventh-round (197th overall) draft pick of the Minnesota Wild, posted a .946 save percentage (SV%) and 1.33 goals-against average (GAA) in 14 games this season. UMass will have to start Matthew Murray versus Minnesota-Duluth. He was no slouch with a .913 SV% and 2.01 GAA in 13 games this season. Graham is the team’s third-string goaltender and did not appear in any games.