With a dearth of dynamic gamebreakers in their prospect pool, the Bruins chose to load up on some flashy skill by taking Swedish right wing Fabian Lysell in the 21st slot of the NHL draft’s first round on Friday.
Lysell did not have big numbers after going to Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League (two goals, one assist in 26 games) from Frolunda HC’s junior team, but he notched nine points in seven games at the IIHF World U18 championships, helping Sweden to a bronze medal finish.
According to various scouting reports, the 5-foot-10, 172-pound Lysell — the ninth-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting — can create offense for himself or for his teammates with his playmaking abilities and is also a reliable two-way player.
Lysell has “straight-line speed and two-step quickness to burn,” said Elite Prospects in its rundown on the wing. “Lysell spots teammates through layers and has the deft touch to get the the puck when the time is right.”
GM Don Sweeney’s take on Lysell was, as you might expect, upbeat.
“We’re excited about what Fabian brings. His passion and skill combiation was unique for us to identify,” said Sweeney, who did not want to predict when he’d be ready to play in North America.
Sweeney was impressed by his U18 performance.
“You saw the pockets of his high end ability,” said Sweeney. “Again, there are details that all young players have to learn and assimiliate with the North American style. But he has attributes that I think we identifed that the Boston Bruins need…the scoring and skill is at a premium and it’s hard to find. Fabian has a lot of those attributes.”
Lysell said that it was “a dream come true” to be picked by the Bruins, name-checking Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. He said his style of play is to challenge his opponents with his speed and get to the hard areas of the ice where the goals are scored.
He said the bump up to the men’s league was a learning experience.
“That’s a situation that’s tough, playing against men in SHL. It’s a tough league for sure. It’s really competitive and you’ve got to be prepared for each game. So that was obviously a jump to do, but I really enjoyed that, for sure. And I think being in that environment with the older guys and learning from them has helped me a lot. That’s something I’ll bring into the future,” said Lysell.
Lysell said he hoped to come to Boston for the Bruins development camp starting August 2.
The B’s under Sweeney have placed a premium on character, which is why it was a bit eye-catching to see that some scouts have questioned Lysell’s. He’s been called overconfident and even arrogant for asking to jump up to the SHL at his age.
Leaning on the B’s European scout and former Bruin P.J. Axelsson’s recommendation, Sweeney said he was not concerned about Lysell’s character.
“There’s growing up to be done for a lot of young men and women and Fabian’s no different in that regard,” said Sweeney. “He’s made some real steps. We challenged him in all the interview processes and how his maturity was progressing and felt satisfied that he’s made a lot of strides from growing into a young man and beyond. We’re aware of the challenges that he’s presented in certain situaitons, that he might not have handled as well as he could have and he’s grown from it and he’ll be a better person from it.”
On the local front, Hingham’s Matty Beniers was taken second overall by the Seattle Kraken, the highest a Massachusetts player to be taken since Buffalo took Jack Eichel with the second pick in 2015.
The first round had a decidedly maize and blue hue. Beniers was one of four University Michigan players to be taken in the top five players taken. The Sabres took Wolverine defenseman first, Beniers went second, incoming freshman Luke Hughes went fourth to the Devils and Columbus took Wolverine center Kent Johnson fifth.
“(The Kraken) were probably one of my favorite teams I interviewed with,” said Beniers. “I thought we had a really good connection all the times we talked, so I’m just so excited they picked me and I’m going to be a Seattle Kraken.”
Kraken GM Ron Francis said that Beniers would be a strong candidate to make the Seattle roster in the fall if he chose to leave school, though that’s a conversation they need to have.
“He’s such a great, character kid. He takes on every challenge head-on,” sad Francis. “With the way he competes each and every day, his skill set, we just felt he was the perfect fit for us to start our franchise and set the tone of what we want to build here and establish our culture. We think he’s got huge upside.”