Prospect Report: Anton Lundell
Anton Lundell is another guy who’s been on the 2020 radar for what seems like forever. The 6’1, 187 pound centerman who hails from Espoo, Finland, plays a hard, mature game with some sneaky skill. In his D-2 season, he averaged just under a point a game in 22 Jr. A SM-Liiga games, and 34 international games. The following year, Lundell was a man amongst boys in the Jr. A, and played 38 professional Liiga games, registering 9 goals and 10 assists for 19 points. That’s some pretty insane production for a 17 year old in one of the top men’s leagues on the planet. He also had some fantastic showings at the U18 and U20 levels for team Finland, including a solid WJC performance.
This year, Lundell scored 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 44 Liiga games. He was often deployed in HIFK’s top six, and got ample special teams time, averaging just under 16 minutes a game. Towards the latter half of the season, that number increased to around 17 minutes. An injury forced him to miss some time, and unfortunately the WJC, where I was really looking forward to seeing him play. I think he would have been a top producer for team Finland, and it’s unfortunate that he had to sit out.
Lundell’s game comes with so many positive aspects, but there’s a few wrinkles that need to be addressed. He’s a strong skater North/South, but his agility and ability to change directions are both lacking. His stride is powerful, but he just doesn’t have the natural speed that some of his peers do. He’s also a heavy and hunched skater, and doesn’t have the kind of explosiveness to dominate pro hockey. It’s not awful, but here’s an example of what I mean:
His skating is something that I think he can definitely improve, and while it does hold him back in some regards, it’s not the end of the world at all. He’s not fast, but he’s not too slow, and his other abilities are the ones that scouts should be primarily focused on.
There’s sort of a paradox when it comes to Lundell’s puck protection and overall control. Along the boards, in front of the net, or just at any slower paced times of the game, he’s fantastic at protecting the puck. He’s able to use his body and stickhandling ability efficiently to keep control, and he’s strong on his skates. When on the rush, or handling the puck with speed in the offensive zone, he’s not great. His hands are fantastic, and he’s strong on his stick, but the evasiveness is just not there. He can’t turn all that well, and if he can’t get past the D with a deke or a power move, there’s not much he can do. Again, it just comes back to his agility on the ice, which is something that he can improve over time.
Almost anytime that Lundell fails or doesn’t excel at something, it can be traced back to his skating, and that’s the only negative thing I see. Everything else is high level with him, starting with his 200 foot game. Lundell is a sturdy defensive presence in his own zone, tracks his assignments responsibly, and rarely gets caught out of position. He’s also great on the draw, winning 53% of faceoffs over the course of the season, with that number increasing to 58% in March. He’s not only able to win faceoffs at a high rate, he’s able to control where the puck goes. Watch how perfect this draw win is:
What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in physical play, and uses his size and strength as an advantage to win puck battles. His motor is pretty much always going, and he’s an efficient forechecker as well. When it comes to defensive play among forwards, the only one in this draft who can potentially rival Lundell is Khustnutdinov.
Offensively, he’s got some tools to be a scorer. He has a stellar shot, a quick set of hands, and has shown the ability to make some high level plays:
That kind of play that breaks the ice open is somewhat rare for him, but the only thing that matters is he’s shown that he’s capable of it. On a game to game basis, you can expect him to make smart, accurate passes that push the game forward. He’s usually able to find teammates’ tape without issue, often saucing the puck a few inches above the ice:
I think his best offensive weapon is his wrist shot. He’s got a really heavy shot, and albeit not the quickest release, he’s able to pick his spots and hit them efficiently:
Right now, he’s pretty easy to project as a middle six center who can kill penalties and score some goals. The issue is, who knows what kinds of developmental strides he’ll take in the next few years? If he gets a bit faster, and a bit more dynamic offensively, he can legitimately be a number one center in the NHL. I can understand the hesitation in drafting him with a top five pick, especially with the kind of elite offensive talent available this year. However, I really believe that he’s got a good shot at reaching that ceiling, and would be thrilled taking him somewhere in the 8-12 range. Lundell's a fantastic prospect, and I think he'll be proving doubters wrong for years to come.