While there’s still clearly plenty of unknown when it comes to 19-year-old Boston Bruins prospect Fabian Lysell, there’s now no denying his standing as an elite winger prospect across the hockey world. Lysell was one of the key players in helping Team Sweden win a bronze medal this weekend against a field stacked with some pretty talented teams in the top half of the group.
The B’s 2021 first round pick finished second on Team Sweden with his six points in seven games during the World Juniors tournament and had the fourth-most shot attempts on a talented group of Swedes brought to Edmonton this summer.
In all, it was a rousing success for Boston’s top overall prospect and a great World Juniors tournament overall with B’s prospect Riley Duran performing very well as a bottom-6 power forward type for Team USA’s squad.
The question now becomes exactly what kind of chance the 5-foot-10, 176-pound Lysell has to make the NHL this upcoming season, and perhaps shoot for a similar impact to a teenaged David Pastrnak when he first flashed on the scene in Boston. Nobody is directly comparing the two, of course, as Lysell seems more of a playmaker than a natural goal scorer like Pastrnak was at the same age, but let’s fact it: Lysell scored some pretty sweet goals for Team Sweden in the last two weeks that bode well for his continued development as a goal-scorer at the NHL level.
The combination of speed, skating, tenacity and finish on this electric wraparound goal in Sweden’s Bronze Medal game neatly packaged up Lysell’s entire skill set and dynamic ability in a 15-second hockey play.
Fabian Lysell goes around and in.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 20, 2022
And earlier in the tournament, Lysell showed off an NHL-level ability to finish around the net after some fly-by-night scouting websites had been critical of his shooting ability going into the 2021 NHL draft.
— SwehockeyGIFs (@swehockeygifs) August 12, 2022
In between those goals Lysell showed excellent on-ice vision, great creativity with the puck and an ability to set up his teammates for scoring chances. Some of those passes were finished for goals as his team-leading four assists in seven games would attest to, but some of Lysell’s passing attempts frankly needed better players on the receiving end to wind up in the back of the net.
That’s where Lysell’s plan to play in New England this winter gets awfully intriguing.
To this humble hockey writer, the 19-year-old Lysell looked like he’s got the potential to be even better than he was at World Juniors with better, smarter and more skilled players around him. Sure, Lysell is going to have to prove he can handle the physical rigors of both the NHL and the AHL, and there are details of his game that will also need to be worked out before he’d ever been considered a reliable player in Boston.
Even if Lysell can make enough plays to justify his presence, there are going to be games where he’s simply not going to look ready for the NHL level based on where he is in his hockey career.
But again Lysell played a harder, more physical game at World Juniors than perhaps initially advertised after the Boston Bruins selected him in the first round, and that bodes well for meeting what could be expected of him in Boston, even as a 19-year-old. And the Boston Bruins are going to need some kind of dynamic offensive provider on the wing to start the season while Brad Marchand rehabs from double hip surgery this past summer.
If Lysell shows some kind of Pastrnak flashes in NHL training camp, then what’s the harm in starting him off on Boston’s top line with Patrice Bergeron while sliding Jake DeBrusk back to his natural left wing for at least the first couple of months? That would allow the Bruins to start the year with the Taylor Hall, David Krejci and David Pastrnak trio on the second line that could finally give Boston two star-studded, high-impact forward lines when everybody gets healthy.
It might also give the Boston Bruins their best chance to survive without arguably their most impactful player in Marchand for the first few months next season.
If Lysell struggles then he could very easily head back down to Providence once everybody gets healthy in Boston, and he can begin that development journey with a taste of the NHL in his mouth. But if the 19-year-old dazzles, or at least flashes a few times, during an early season stint with the Boston Bruins then that could open up a lot of possibilities for the Bruins moving forward.
There’s always been whispers that the Boston Bruins are shopping Craig Smith this summer, and the B’s are undoubtedly looking for somebody that can bring some elite offensive skill to the table if things don’t end up working out contract-wise with Pastrnak. Lysell gave unmistakable indications at World Juniors that he could factor in all of this, so that should be a fascinating storyline next month once NHL training camp gets going.