It’s that time of year again!
As we approach the Vancouver Canucks’ regular season, it’s a slow news cycle. So, we are going to evaluate and rank the prospects in the Canucks’ system. From Sweden to Massachusetts, and all the way over to Kamloops, there’s a crop of prospects who we want to watch develop over the next few years and hopefully, a handful can get to the NHL and make a difference for the Canucks.
In the leadoff spot, we are looking at the most recent Canucks draft pick in 17-year-old Swedish winger, Lucas Forsell.
Weight: 165 lbs
Age: 17 (turns 18 on September 5th)
Position: LW (RW with Sweden’s U18 team)
2021-22 Team: Färjestad J20 – Färjestad (SHL)
When the Canucks selected Lucas Forsell in the 2021 draft just one month ago, those who followed the Swedish J20 league began to say that this was an excellent value pick for the Canucks in the seventh round. Forsell had his J20 season shut down just 18 games into the year due to COVID-19. He was then sent to Färjestad’s SHL team to continue his development and practice with the top-tier squad. He ended up getting into one SHL game and held his own as a lanky 17-year-old.
The best skill of Forsell is his playmaking ability. His pass-first mentality initiates offence on a consistent basis and his high-energy forechecking helps create quick transition offence that you love to see as a talent evaluator. A big reason for him falling in the draft came from his limited viewings. Though he did get games in this season, he only played a total of 18 games across three leagues (J18, J20 and SHL) along with a handful of games on Sweden’s U18 team. Forsell’s best showing came in a U20 game this season that saw him tally up five primary assists.
I didn't want to expose my little secret so early, but Lucas Forsell is really good. I haven't seen him talked about anywhere, and he's hands down one of the most dynamic Swedes in the #2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/1Zblbyabtw
— Alex Taxman (@AIexTaxman) November 9, 2020
We have an abundance of information on Forsell in a recent deep dive article of mine from just a week ago. I highly recommend checking that article out for more information on his past. So, in this article, I am going to finish up with what I’d like to see develop in Forsell’s game and some expectations for his coming season.
The way it looks like it’s shaking down, Forsell should begin the season in the J20 league. It’s a league that plays a wide-open game and features a ton of odd-man rushes. To build excitement among fans and show improvement, Forsell will need to be at least a point per game player this season. He will be relied upon to be the top scoring player on the team and unfortunately for him, Färjestad’s J20 is likely to be a bad team.
This has the potential for Forsell to take over the squad and he is clearly the best player on the roster and will be looked at to be “the guy” for his squad. He will be the trigger man on the power play. He will get first-line minutes at five-on-five and it wouldn’t shock me to see some penalty kill time for him as well.
Lucas Forsell (#canucks) has a noted "pass first" mentality.
He decided against that here. pic.twitter.com/mTmiPmPKbU
— Dave Hall (@hall1289) July 26, 2021
Another part of his game I would like to see him build on is his physicality. Even with a 165-pound frame, Forsell didn’t look out of place in his one SHL game, he held his own on the boards and threw efficient, strong hits on the forecheck. Being capable physically at an SHL level is something that 90% of the J20 players cannot accomplish. If Forsell can bring that energy to every J20 game, he will dominate the competition and honestly, his team will need him to do so to have success this coming season.
There was a glimmer of hope that Forsell could crack Färjestad’s SHL team out of camp but the preseason action seems to have indicated that he will not be a part of the SHL team to begin the year unless there are some injuries before the season. As he is grinding away in the J20 league, the goal for his 2021-22 season should be to work his way onto the SHL roster for some games. If he is able to get to the SHL before the turn of the calendar, that will be a massive win for the 17-year-old and the Canucks organization.
The reasons why I liked this pick so much came from watching his effort level consistently look higher than his J20 competition while he also showed that he has offensive potential to go along with his hot-running motor. He was also just nine days away from being a prospect for the 2022 draft instead of the 2021 rendition. If he was born nine days later, there’s no doubt in my mind that he could have worked his way into being a top-90 pick in the 2022 draft.
For now, the Canucks have a young and talented Swedish winger to keep their eyes on for years to come. Currently, he is at least two-three years away from us even talking about him coming over to North America. For Swedish prospects, the route to North America typically goes through the SHL and that is what Canucks fans should hope for him this season.
As long as he rips up the J20 league as expected, he will get to the SHL sooner or later.
And with his eventual promotion to the SHL, will come a promotion in our prospect rankings.