Rangers rookie Nils Lundkvist wins Lars-Erik Sjoberg award

The New York Rangers have announced that Nils Lundkvist has won the Lars-Erik Sjoberg award ass the top rookie in training camp.

The New York Rangers have announced the winner of this year’s Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award. Defenseman Nils Lundkvist takes home the award which is given annually to the top Rangers rookie in Training Camp as selected by the media.

The 5-foot-11, 187-pound defenseman was drafted in the first round (28th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. A Pitea, Sweden native, Lundkvist is playing in North America for the first time this season after spending parts of the last four years with Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).

Lundkvist, 21, led all Rangers rookies this preseason with three points (three assists) in four games. His three points were tied for the most among New York defensemen and third-most among all Rangers skaters. (Via NYRPR)

In the preseason opener against the Islanders on Sept. 26, Lundkvist was one of two Rangers (Adam Fox) to skate in over 20 minutes with 21:11 TOI. On Oct. 1 in New Jersey, Lundkvist found his way on the scoresheet with an assist on fellow Swede, Mika Zibanejad’s goal. Playing in the second of a back-to-back on Oct. 2, in Boston, Lundkvist helped lead the Rangers to their overtime win with two assists in the first period of that game. For his final act of the preseason, Lundkvist recorded a shot in 18:44 minutes of ice time in the Blueshirts’ 6-2 win against New Jersey at Madison Square Garden.

Past Sjoberg Winners

The Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award, which was first presented in 1988, honors the memory of Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who was the Rangers chief European scout for eight years. During his tenure with the Blueshirts, Sjoberg played a prominent role in the team’s decision to draft Europeans such as Tomas Sandstrom, Jan Erixon, and Ulf Dahlen.

Lundkvist joins an impressive group of past winners of this award;

1988 Mike Richter

1989 Troy Mallette

1990 Steven Rice

1991 Tony Amonte

1992 Peter Andersson

1993 Mattias Norstrom

1994 Mattias Norstrom

1995 Niklas Sundstrom

1996 Eric Cairns

1997 Marc Savard

1998 Manny Malhotra

1999 Kim Johnsson

2000 Filip Novak

2001 Dan Blackburn

2002 Jamie Lundmark

2003 Dominic Moore

2005 Henrik Lundqvist

2006 Nigel Dawes and Brandon Dubinsky

2007 Marc Staal

2008 Lauri Korpikoski

2009 Matt Gilroy

2010 Derek Stepan

2011 Carl Hagelin

2013 Jesper Fast

2014 Anthony Duclair

2015 Oscar Lindberg

2016 Jimmy Vesey

2017 Filip Chytil

2018 Lias Andersson

2019 Adam Fox

2021 Nils Lundkvist

 

Lundkvist is expected to be on the opening night lineup and paired with veteran defenseman Patrik Nemeth. The Rangers will open their season on Wednesday in Washington and then head to Madison Square Garden for their home op[ener on Thursday night.

Defenseman Nils Lundkvist is ready to begin his first training camp with the Rangers

The New York Rangers begin training camp on Wednesday, and all eyes will be on defenseman Nils Lundkvist. Is a roster spot his to lose?

The day has finally arrived. New York Rangers hockey has returned with players reporting to training camp for physicals on Wednesday.

With a few roster spots available, the competition to make the lineup on opening night is sure to be intense. On the blue line, the club is looking for a third-pair combination.

It appears that Lundkvist has secured a place on the roster, and it’s his to lose once practice begins on Thursday.

First Round Pick

Lundkvist was the Rangers’ first-round pick (28th overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

General Manager and President Chris Drury gleamed with confidence when he spoke of Lundkvist before the development camp began two weeks ago.

“We’re having exhibition games, we’re having a tryout, and it wouldn’t surprise me if at the end of it he’s standing there on our team,” Rangers general manager Chris Drury said to Dan Rosen of NHL.com. “We’re certainly excited.”

The Pitea, Sweden, native played in the Lulea organization in Sweden. He set career highs in goals (14) and points (32) in 2021 as he won the Salming Trophy awarded to the top Sweden-born defenseman in the SHL.

Lundkvist was considering North America last year but decided another year in the SHL would be better for him and his development.

“It’s a big step just coming here and move overseas too,” Lundkvist said this month at Rangers development camp. “With the COVID situation last year, I think it was a good decision to play back home again.”

In A Good Place

Rangers director of player development Jed Ortmeyer likes what he has seen so far of Lundkvist. He sees some comparisons to last years Norris Trophy winner and Rangers teammate Adam Fox,

“He reads the play well. He knows when to jump in offensively. He’s got a heavy shot and an accurate shot. He scored a lot of goals for his team in Sweden from the point. He can generate offense for his team but he can also play against other team’s top lines and shut them down. I think the overall game that Adam Fox has, the way he thinks, there could be some similarities there for sure, but we’ll see when the puck drops.”

The organization has been successful with the last two rookie defensemen to get a full-time spot with the team. Two years ago Adam Fox took center stage, and last season K’Andre Miller shined bright under the Broadway lights.

Can the Rangers score a hat trick with Lundkvist? Sunday’s first preseason game could indicate how things will play out for the young player.

New York Rangers agree to terms with D Nils Lundkvist

New York Rangers president and general manager Chris Drury announced the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Nils Lundkvist on Thursday afternoon.

Lundkvist, 20, skated in 52 games with Lulea in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) this past season, registering 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points, along with 30 penalty minutes. He was named the winner of the Salming Trophy in 2020-21, which is awarded annually to the best Swedish-born defenseman in the SHL as selected by Hockey Hall of Famer Borje Salming. Lundkvist established SHL career-highs in several categories in 2020-21, including games played, goals, points, average ice time (21:24), and shots on goal (156). He ranked fifth in the SHL (ranked second among SHL defensemen) in shots on goal in 2020-21, and he also led SHL defensemen in goals and power-play goals (eight) this past season. Lundkvist’s 14 goals in 2020-21 were the most by a defenseman in one season as a U21 player or younger in SHL history.

The 5-11, 187-pounder has skated in 166 career SHL games over parts of four seasons (2017-18 – 2020-21), registering 30 goals and 48 assists for 78 points. Lundkvist’s 78 career points are the most by a defenseman while in his U21 season or younger in league history, his 166 career games are tied for the most by a defenseman while in his U21 season or younger in league history, and his 30 career goals and 48 career assists are each the second-most by a defenseman while in his U21 season or younger in league history. Over the last two seasons (2019-20 and 2020-21), Lundkvist led SHL defensemen in goals (25), ranked second among SHL defensemen in points (63), and ranked sixth among SHL defensemen in assists (38).

via NYR PR.

The Pitea, Sweden native was selected by the Rangers in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

New York Rangers’ prospects thriving in Europe as North American rinks remain empty

With the sports world and the NHL in a state of flux, the New York Rangers‘ brass made a very wise decision when they decided to loan some of their prospects to teams in European leagues that are currently playing. A wise decision when you consider that the Rangers’ NCAA prospects haven’t played since early March, which also holds true for their minor leaguers.

Enter the leagues in Europe that are currently playing hockey. It was widely known that most of the Rangers’ prospects playing in Europe were going to play there regardless of the pandemic, such as Nils Lundkvist, Yegor Rysev, and Vitali Kravtsov.

“Especially for young players who really at this point are yet to be established, not only in the NHL but in North America, to get them in games, to get them playing, to get them on a team at this stage of their career, to continue their development, is important,” said Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury.

Recently the Blueshirts put a video up on social media that highlights the promise of Lundkvist.

This fueled speculation that the young swede might be donning a Blueshirt when the NHL season likely opens in January.

As Lee Corso is famous for saying “Not so fast, my friend.”

While many scouts feel that Lundkvist could be NHL-ready by the end of the Swedish season, he remains unsigned by the Rangers and under contract in Sweden, which means that he will not be coming to New York until the end of the Swedish league season or the start of the 2121-22 season.

Even if somehow Lundqvist could come over, it might not be that simple when you take into consideration that some of these prospects would play 30-40 games overseas, then come over to an NHL season that might begin in January and play in something resembling an 82-game season plus playoffs. That may not be the best course for young players.

Lundkvist, the 2019-20 European Player of the Year, has tallied two goals and an assist in eight games for Lulea of the SHL and has looked every bit of the gifted right-handed offensive defenseman that should soon be an integral part of the Blueshirts sometime in the near future. But not likely in the 20-21 season.

Playing overseas has also helped Vitali Kravtsov, who struggled in the 2019-20 season. It is well known that Kravtsov signed his entry-level contract, came over to the states, had a good camp but didn’t make the team, then got himself loaned out of Hartford to Traktor of the KHL. Even though he did finish the year at Hartford, many feel that it might be better for him to play out this year in the KHL.

Kravtsov has started the season very well, scoring six goals and two assists for eight points in 11 games.

Another prospect who could come across the Atlantic is defenseman Tarmo Reunanen, who has attended prospect camps and last season’s training camp. While he will likely start at Hartford (or the NHL’s version of baseball’s “alternative sites” for young players) Reunanen is currently playing in TUTO Turku in his native Finland where he has posted two goals and an assist in his first three games,

Reunanen is an offensive-minded blueliner who eliteprospects has stated that he ” can carry the puck, dangle through traffic, and set up his teammates. While he relies on his offensive skills, he is not a defensive liability.”

Yegor Rykov suffered an injury during training camp and it took a toll on the big defenseman for much of last season, but he did post two goals and nine assists in 27 games in Hartford. He was obtained from the New Jersey Devils in the 2018 deadline deal that sent Michael Grabner to New Jersey and was a fifth-round pick in 2016.

This year Rykovhas appeared in 16 games and has five assists for CSKA Moscow in the KHL.

So at a time when hockey should have started up in North America, at least some young New York Rangers are seeing some valuable ice-time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Rangers Prospects Doing Well in Overseas Action

The New York Rangers have had some of their top prospects play overseas as some of those organizations are preparing to start their seasons, allowing the Rangers’ young players to see some quality action while the current NHL season is winding down. It is still possible that some or all of the prospects could be invited to the Rangers training camp when the NHL determines the upcoming schedule.

Nils Lundkvist playing in Sweden

The Rangers first-round pick in 2018 tallied a power-play assist to help Lulea earn a win in its pre-season game on Sept. 3 against Bjorkloven. Lundkvist’s 31 points and 20 assists in 2019-20 were each the most by an SHL defenseman in his U20 season or younger in league history, and his 11 goals were tied for the most by an SHL defenseman in his U20 season or younger in league history. His 31 points, 20 assists, and plus-18 rating were each the best by an SHL player in his U20 season or younger (regardless of position) last season, and he tallied nine more points and nine more assists than any other player in his U20 season or younger in the SHL in 2019-20.

Tweet Translation: New York has to wait! Nils Lundkvist has more important things for himself. Last season, he broke a new SHL record for the number of points of a junior defender with 31 points. Charging for its fourth straight season with # VåratGäng.

 

Vitali Kravtsov loaned to Traktor of the KHL

Kravtsov played on Traktor’s second line at even strength during the first two games of the season, and he also played on Traktor’s top power-play unit in each contest.

Kravtsov tallied a goal and led all skaters with six shots on goal in Traktor’s second game of the 2020-21 KHL regular season on Sept. 6 against Kunlun. He also recorded five shots on goal, registered eight shot attempts, and logged 16:41 of ice time (including 5:08 of ice time considered time on attack) while skating in his first game of the 2020-21 KHL regular season on Sept. 3 against Avtomobilist. He was The Rangers’ first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Lias Andersson playing for HV71 in Sweden

After an emotional roller coaster last season, the Rangers’ first-round pick (seventh overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has registered five goals in six preseason games this year with HV71, and he has recorded at least one goal in four of the six contests.

Andersson registered 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 15 SHL games with HV71 to conclude the 2019-20 season, and he tallied a goal/point in six of the final nine games of the season (seven goals, three assists over the
span).

Karl Henriksson is playing for Frolunda in Swedish Hockey League

Henriksson re-joined Frolunda (SHL) during the past week after playing in two pre-season games with Sweden’s U20 National Team during the final week of August. Henriksson wore the ‘C’ as Sweden’s captain in each of the two games and registered two points (one goal, one assist) over the two contests.

Henriksson has recorded two points (one goal, one assist) in three pre-season games with Frolunda this year, and he has played on the team’s top line in each of the three contests. Henriksson registered 41 points (six goals, 35 assists) and a plus-12 rating in 27 games with Frolunda’s J20 team last season. He was the Rangers’ second-round pick (58th overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

Yegor Rykov playing in Russia

The 23-year-old registered 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 27 AHL games with Hartford last season. played his first three games of the 2020-21 KHL regular season with CKSA Moscow between Sept. 2 and Sept. 7. Rykov logged 17:46 of ice time (fourth-most on the team and third-most among team defensemen), including 4:20
of ice time which was considered time on attack.

Other Ranger prospects playing overseas

Lauri Pajuniemi notched an assist on the game-winning goal, recorded three shots on goal, and posted a plus-two rating while skating in a team-high 20:16 of ice time in TPS’ pre-season win on Sept. 3 against Lukko (Finland’s Liiga). Pajuniemi is the Rangers’ fifth-round pick (132nd overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Leevi Aaltonen, the Rangers’ fifth-round pick (130th overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, recorded two points (one goal, one assist), both in the third period, notched the primary assist on the game-winning goal, and posted a plus-two rating in KalPa’s pre-season win on Sept. 5 against JYP. (Finland’s Liiga)

Calle Sjalin notched an assist and posted a plus-one rating to help Leksands earn a win in the Skoda Trophy tournament against Vita Hasten on Sept. 4. The Rangers’ fifth-round pick (145th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft split last season between Leksands in the SHL and Vasteras in Allsvenskan (SHL’s tier two).

 

 

 

New York Rangers Prospect Named Junior Player of the Year in Sweden

New York Rangers, Brad Skjei

The New York Rangers are genuinely excited about their young prospects as recently Nils Lundkvist was named the  Junior Player of the Year in the Swedish Hockey League. Lundkvist was selected in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers.

The New York Ranger prospect had an excellent year in Sweden

The Swedish blueliner has made his mark in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for Lulea, scoring 31 points in 45 games, thereby setting a new points record for a junior defender in the league.  Lundkvist is also no stranger to international competition, representing his home country at the U20 World Juniors twice, once in Victoria in 2019 and in 2020 in the Czech Republic. In helping lead Sweden to the Bronze medal, he tallied eight points by scoring a goal with seven assists. When asked what the experience of setting the new points record, he told eliteprospects.com that “It’s was that it was a cool thing. When there was talk of that record, that I had a chance to overtake it, I had a drought of four to five games when I didn’t put up any points. Then there was a lot of talk about that, a lot of questions, ‘when will you set the new record? When are you going to hit it?’

What is the next step in his New York Ranger future?

The recent coronavirus pandemic has made that question a little tricky to answer. Assuming the opportunity exists, Lundkvist could make a push to make the Blueshirts roster next season. The scouting report on him states that in addition to his scoring ability, he draws praise for his back end mobility and that he continues to improve from year to year. He is familiar with his future Ranger teammates, having participated at the Rangers’ developmental camp this past summer, an experience that Lundkvist has repeatedly stated has helped his progression as a player

His family is no stranger to professional hockey, as his uncle Jan Sandstrom played many years for Lulea in the Swedish Professional League. Lundkvist was quite happy that he could play one season with his uncle.

The Rangers have quite a few talented defensemen on the way, at the forefront being Lundkvist and former Wisconsin defenseman K’Andre Miller, as the Rangers continue to stockpile young talent in the hopes of making a run at the Stanley Cup in the near future.

New York Rangers Keeping Tabs on Five Prospects During World Juniors

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers brass will have a little extra duty during the holiday season as they monitor the process of five Rangers prospects as they participate in the current U20 World Championships. The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, is taking place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2020. Here is a look at the five prospects that are on rosters:

Nils Lundkvist

The Swedish defenseman was selected in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Rangers. Lundkvist has had a nice season with his Swedish Junior team. As he left his club team for the World Juniors camp, he was third in scoring among defensemen in the SHL. In 24 games, he has totaled 17 points.  Many feel that he could be playing over here as soon as next season.

K’Andre Miller

Here is a little quick fact about Miller: He was a child model appearing in Target ads and was even cast in a Honda commercial that featured former Rangers Mike Richter and Pat LaFontaine. This, of course, was before the Rangers took Miller with their second of three first-round picks in the 2018 NHL draft, at No. 22 overall. He had only been playing defense full time for the previous two seasons when he was drafted. Being converted from forward, he has the size, athleticism and tremendous skating ability to be a top defenseman. He was recently named as an alternate captain for the United States team.

Karl Henriksson

The Swedish center plays for Frölunda HC J20 in the J20 SuperElit league and will suit up for the Swedes in the World Juniors. The New York Rangers selected him in the second round of the 2019 Draft.  Hockeyprospect.com has stated that his hands are soft and he can stickhandle well in tight situations and move the puck an inch to make a perfect tape-to-tape pass. Henriksson tallied a goal in Sweden’s pre-tournament game Monday against the United States.

Zachary Jones

The UMass/Amherst defenseman was born in the small town of Glenn Allen, Virginia to a minor pro hockey equipment manager who had his son in skates at an early age.  The USHL 2018-19 Rookie of the Year was drafted by the Rangers in the third round, 68th overall. The scouting report on Jones says that he has excellent vision and hockey IQ that makes him such a versatile player that can be used in all situations. It does not appear that Jones will be paired much with fellow future Blueshirt K’Andre Miller, but Rangers fans would love to see what this pairing could do together.

Nico Gross

The New York Rangers fourth-round pick in 2018 is entering into his third U20 WJC for Switzerland and has served as captain at other international tournaments.  The defenseman currently plays for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. One of his highlights this year was scoring a hat trick on Oct 4 against New Brunswick.  Gross is generally described as a mobile, physical and intelligent player.

Ranger fans who do not wait until Friday to see some hockey can watch the United States playing Canada on Dec. 26 at 1 p.m. ET, which is the first day of the tournament.  The NHL Network will carry that game as well as all of the US preliminary games.