Some prospects are more polarizing than others. Sometimes it’s a matter of where a player plays. Other times, it’s about how much they play. In the case of the prospect I’m highlighting today, it’s about how the prospect conducts themselves.
Fabian Lysell is a very confident young man. He is so confident, in fact, that he demanded a move out from Frölunda HC’s J20 team in order to get meaningful playing time in the SHL this season. He eventually found a fit with Luleå HF with whom he played 26 games with season, tallying just two goals and three points along the way. Much like the Detroit Red Wings’ top pick in the 2020 draft, Lucas Raymond, this Swedish winger’s overall point totals do not directly reflect what this kid can do, though.
Related: Red Wings 2021 Draft Coverage
With the sixth pick in the 2021 draft, the Red Wings are in a position where they need to hit on their first pick. The ideal outcome, of course, is that they come away from the draft having selected a budding superstar, but the uncertainty surrounding this draft class casts doubt over who has the potential to become that kind of player. While Lysell has some drawbacks, I am of the opinion that this is a player whose risk-to-reward odds are among the best in this draft class.
Putting the “Motor” in Motor City
When an 18-year-old kid demands a release from a team so that he can play on a bigger stage, that kid better back it up once he gets that opportunity. To Lysell’s credit, I believe he absolutely did. He is active in every zone whenever he is on the ice. Whether it’s pressuring the opposition in the defensive zone or buzzing around looking for passing or shooting opportunities in the offensive zone, he is almost always moving his feet, which is something that you hear NHL coaches preaching on a day-to-day basis. When I asked Peter Baracchini, a member of the scouting team here at THW, about Lysell, the first thing he brought up was the player’s feet.
“The obvious standout to Lysell’s game is his skating and speed. You give him ample space he’s able to turn on the jets and enter the offensive zone quickly and with ease,” Baracchini said. “If you saw one of his goals during the U18 Championship- going end to end- then you know what I’m talking about. He can flow effortlessly in the offensive zone and create a very strong cycle game, maintaining possession and setting up plays.”
Not only does Lysell have the ability to go coast-to-coast like in the goal above, he can also create pressure along the boards and is willing to skate into the dangerous areas of the ice. In terms of skill, we could be looking at a Brad Marchand-type of player, minus all the other shenanigans the Boston Bruins forward pulls.
“Lysell has very quick hands that allow him stick handle his way in high traffic areas along the boards and in front if the net. He’s always there to support his teammates and always be an option to keep the play alive,” Baracchini said.
Even if he doesn’t max-out to a Marchand level, he could become a player that is similar to current Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi; Lysell doesn’t back down, and he’s going to create a lot of opportunities for himself and his teammates based solely on his ability to use his skating to create pressure. His hands and hockey IQ allow him to do something with the pressure he creates, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts producing big numbers against men in the SHL.
Confidence is Key?
While Lysell has a talent for creating pressure all over the ice, he isn’t as great at handling pressure that he faces. He can be drawn into making mistakes if he faces enough pressure from the opposition, and you’d like to see him develop the ability to slow down the game and make smart decisions with the puck despite having a guy or two in his face. The best players tend to make those adjustments, it’s just a matter of whether or not this player can.
At 5-foot-10, Lysell is another smaller-sized winger available in this year’s draft, and while that’s not an inherently bad thing, there are questions about how he would handle the biggest men in the game attacking him in the offensive zone. He already has some issues dealing with defensive pressure, so compounding it with a lack of size will give some scouts hesitation about whether or not his game will translate in North America. His ability to adjust and use his size to his advantage could be the ultimate difference between him becoming a role player or a star in the NHL.
One other thing to keep in mind is his request to transfer to a different team. Some teams are looking at this as a character flaw with his harshest critics essentially calling him arrogant and over-confident. While I don’t share those same sentiments, I do think there is something to be said about this player being willing to take a stand for himself. If he doesn’t agree with where he’s playing, it seems like he’ll let his opinion be known. The Red Wings are notorious for taking their time with their prospects – would that jive with Lysell?
Honestly, I think Lysell is at least a couple years away from cracking an NHL lineup. Much like Lucas Raymond, this is a player that you want to see play more next season in the SHL than he did this season. The season after, you’re probably looking for him to either be a bona fide top line threat in the SHL, or making his way over to North America and playing meaningful minutes down in the AHL. If you’re hoping to see Detroit draft a kid that could arrive sooner rather than later, this probably isn’t the player you want.
Fit with the Red Wings
“The Red Wings have done a great job stock piling their forward depth. Already with Raymond, Jonathan Berggren, Joe Veleno and Theodor Niederbach, adding another dynamic forward in Lysell into the mix would make them more dangerous,” Baracchini said. “Who wouldn’t want to see Lysell and Raymond on the same line? I know I would.”
Raymond has been mentioned a lot in this article, and I think it’s because Lysell and him are similar in a lot of ways. While they don’t ultimately play the same style, I think their upside is as similar as the circumstances that prevented both players from posting explosive offensive numbers in their draft season. It’s no secret that the Red Wings have a very successful history with drafting and developing Swedish talent. Lysell and Raymond could usher in the next era of that success. There’s no doubt that Lysell’s blend of speed and skill would mesh very well with what Red wings general manager Steve Yzerman is building in Detroit.
Best Player Available
Lysell is an interesting case because a lot of people will tell you that he is undoubtedly a top-10 talent in this draft, with some even arguing that he should be considered a top-five talent. However, NHL Central Scouting has him ranked as just the ninth-best European forward in the draft, with some mock drafts projecting him to still be around when Detroit makes their second pick of the first round. Based on that, you would think that this player would not be the best player available to the Red Wings at sixth overall.
Should Lysell still be available when the Red Wings are ready to make pick 22, he would be an absolute slam dunk of a pick – he should not fall out of the top 10, let alone the top 20. Baracchini and I both consider this player to be one of the very best in this draft class, though, and I would be willing to take him at sixth overall. If the biggest concern about him is his attitude, his talent more than makes up for it. I can easily see a reality where we look back on the 2021 draft and think “man, how did Lysell fall that far?!”
“Elusive playmaking winger who breaks down opposing defenders with his great speed and puck handling ability. A threat off the rush and from the half wall on the power play.” – Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
“Dynamic is an understatement when it comes to Lysell. His combination of hands and speed are breath-taking. It is rare for even an experienced, skilled, NHL player to have the puck control, poise and confidence to make the moves Lysell does with ease in full-stride.” – Alexander Appleyard, Smaht Scouting
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.