Regarded widely as a top-5 pick entering the season, Lundell has fallen despite a great season of pro hockey
Anton Lundell (C), HIFK (Liiga)
A regular pro in Finland’s top league over the last two seasons, Lundell has proven at such a young age to be relied upon on both ends of the ice, typically younger players struggle with that aspect of the game.
2018-19 was a banner year for Lundell, he became a regular with HIFK with 19 points in 38 games and also played a key part in Finland’s gold medal at the World Junior Championships as just a 17-year-old. With great performances in his draft-1 year, Lundell was consistently viewed with Quinton Byfield and Lucas Raymond among others, his minor fall has more to do with the play of his peers rather than his.
GP: 44 G: 10 A: 18 P: 28 +/-: 11
Entering the season at just 17-years-old many European prospects would be fighting to stick around their respective pro leagues but Lundell came into the season as a pivotal piece for HIFK.
Relied upon not just for his offensive talent but for his defensive acumen, Lundell was a crucial piece in the middle to HIFK’s lineup, where he put up respectable numbers.
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The skilled centreman didn’t have any “hot” stretches during his season and kept pretty consistent in his offensive output throughout the season. His highest scoring month was in January when he produced 7 points in 8 games, he kept his totals consistent throughout the season. His longest pointless streak was 5 games, while his longest point streak was also 5 games, Lundell was the most consistent performer among European draft eligibles playing in the top men’s leagues.
Lundell also logged 15:49 TOI/game, he was used in all situations especially during the latter half of the season. In the last two months of the season (February, March) Lundell eclipsed over 17 minutes/game, he forced the HIFK coaching staffs hand to keep putting him out there.
Finishing the campaign with 0.64 points/game which is comparable to past Finnish players who were drafted from the Liiga:
Lundell would have been a marquee player for Finland at the world juniors after he sustained an elbow injury:
There’s no telling how Lundell could have boosted his draft stock with a solid tournament as many others did.
It’s odd for any draft-eligible prospect to thrive defensively and especially odd for a forward to have that arsenal but that’s what makes Lundell such an interesting prospect.
One of the things you notice right away when you watch Lundell is his reach, at 6’1″ and 187 pounds he has NHL size already, but his reach exceeds his height, he plays with a long stick. Consistently you will notice Lundell using his reach to deflect pucks, take away puck carrier’s time with the puck and turn pucks over in the defensive zone. Below Lundell does a great job separating the player from the puck.
Another aspect Lundell brings into the fold is his face-off play, he consistently outperformed men in the face-off circle, ending the season with a success rate of 53.54%. It’s clear this is not your normal draft prospect, Lundell does things on the ice that top prospects rarely do in their draft year.
Lundell thinks the game at a very high level, seldom making mistakes, his hockey sense is the reason he’s such a complete player. A good playmaker in the offensive zone, Lundell routinely finds his open teammates for scoring chances.
One of his better plays of the season, it seems as though Lundell has eyes in the back of his head allowing him to find his teammate open at the side of the net for the pretty goal:
To thrive in the defensive zone, players have to think the game at a high-level, Lundell’s defensive awareness allows him to position himself in the correct spot in his own end.
Lundell has been admittingly working on his skating, but it still presents itself as the weakest aspect of his game. Not an explosive skater, Lundell takes a while to get to his top speed which makes him lose out on races for the puck to shiftier opponents. He tends to hunch over in his stride from time to time, making his skating more noticeable.
While I believe Lundell’s skating could be improved upon I don’t see it as a glaring problem and it shouldn’t hold him back at the NHL level, there are plenty of stars in the NHL who aren’t the most fleet of foot but process the game well (ex. Mark Stone).
Can Ottawa Draft Lundell?
Expected to go in the 8-15 range, Ottawa would have to make a trade-up to select the talented Fin. It’s not out of the cards with the Senators holding the New York Islanders first-round pick and four other second-round picks, they have the ammo to trade up.
Ottawa is still lacking that bonafide number one center and holding picks at third and fifth overall in the draft they should grab at least one-star prospect at the position. I doubt Ottawa trades up and ends up selecting Lundell as the need won’t be there and they would likely have to overpay to advance near the top 10.