We can project a prospect’s success to a certain degree, but when it comes to European prospects, one thing we do struggle with is evaluating his team as a whole.
This is certainly the case with Vancouver Canucks 2021 seventh-round pick, Lucas Forsell.
Forsell is an exciting winger who has great playmaking ability and shines in the offensive zone. He’s built to be a scorer and is currently bouncing between the Swedish J20 league and the SHL.
At the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Forsell was one of the youngest players available for selection. He turned 18 just last month.
Though he is bouncing around between the J20 league and the SHL, he is spending most of his time on the J20 circuit. Forsell has played 16 games for his J20 squad while only suiting up in four SHL games. This is all done with the Färjestad BK organization in Sweden.
Färjestad BK has the worst team in the J20 Södra league. They have a very young roster and are currently at the bottom of the Swedish J20 standings with a 2-14-2 record.
Forsell is now being relied upon to be a leader on a team that is spending a ridiculous amount of time in their own end. Their goal differential on the season is -43 and they are coming off of a 9-1 whipping on Tuesday.
The losses are continuing to add up and it’s beginning to take a toll on the Canucks’ youngest prospect in their pipeline.
We caught up with Forsell to check in on how he’s dealing with the rough start to the season.
“It’s really tough, you think about the losses all the time,” said Forsell. “As a hockey player, you want to win every game and right now we’re almost losing every game, so it’s been really tough. It damages your self-confidence as well. It’s going tough for us. It’s really tough but we’re trying, we still practice very hard.”
The game tape is tough to watch.
Most of the time is spent in Färjestad J20’s end. By the time that Forsell or one of his linemates are able to break out of their own zone, they are tired and need a change. The team is constantly chasing the play and sustained pressure in the offensive zone is almost non-existent without a power play opportunity.
Forsell is still finding offence though. He is almost a point per game player on a horrendous team. He currently has three goals and nine assists for a total of 12 points in 15 games.
On top of his J20 team’s struggles, Forsell is attempting to skate as much as he can with the SHL team so that he can work his way up to Sweden’s top league. On the day we caught up with Forsell, he had practiced with the SHL team in the morning, practiced with the J20 team in the afternoon, and went out to dinner with the SHL team at night.
“I mean, it’s hard to plan,” said Forsell. “Sometimes the SHL team has practice but the junior team has practice. I want to be with the SHL team as much as I can, but it’s sometimes hard to do both. It’s even hard for me to plan my dinners or lunches and all that stuff. But it’s planning for hockey, so it’s all so much fun.”
He is currently at a point where he’s just one step away from being an SHL contributor. Forsell has dressed for four games but only played 17:12 over those four games.
Forsell is an offensive winger who knows that he needs to put on more muscle to be able to compete on a nightly basis in the SHL. As we mentioned earlier, he just turned 18 and is confident that he is on the right path to get to the SHL sooner, rather than later. He has been in contact with Chris Higgins and Higgins consistently tells him to spend as much time in the gym as possible.
All the time in his own end is making it tough to showcase his best skills as Forsell looks to make a strong case to land an SHL job before the season ends.
“I’m not a player that wants to shut down the other team’s top players,” said Forsell. “I want to be in the offensive zone because that’s where I am at my best.”
This season has been a test on Forsell as a leader. He told CanucksArmy that he was relied upon to be a team leader when he played on the U18 team but is embracing his new role as a leader with a spotlight on him in the J20 league.
“I’m a player that they count on and it’s tough when you’re a leading figure in the team that the team goes this bad,” said Forsell. “You think about it a lot but I try to be positive as much as I can to help push the guys. I’m trying to be positive but it can be tough when you’re going through stuff that we are going through right now.”
There is not much that the Canucks can do to get him out of the bad position he is in but there is good news after this season.
Forsell’s Junior contract expires after this season and that will mean he is a free agent and can sign wherever he pleases. He will be 18 years old next summer when he is signing that new contract and has the chance to pick an SHL team that will give him plenty of minutes.
This gives Färjestad incentive to play Forsell in more SHL games if they want to keep him in their organization for years to come. It is not likely that the AHL will be on the table for him until the summer of 2023. The Canucks can afford to be patient with their young Swedish winger.
“It feels like I have a great chance to turn pro after this season,” said Forsell. “My junior contract expires after this year so I have that in the back of my head. I’m wondering but excited for whatever happens next season. My main goal is to play myself into a contract with an SHL team. It feels like I have a really good chance to grab a spot.”
Another goal set by Forsell is to compete at the 2023 World Junior Championships. Sweden typically has a bevy of strong wingers but Forsell believes that if he will have a good shot of making the team if he is playing consistent minutes in the SHL during the fall and winter of 2022.
Forsell confirmed that he has not had any conversations with the U20 Swedish team about playing at this year’s World Juniors tournament but is working toward his goal of representing his country next year.
Things are tough for Forsell in Sweden but a consistent SHL job is clearly in reach and he will continue to grind until he becomes an SHL player.
The good news is that he is so young. There’s a ton of offensive potential to his game and though his J20 season is horrendous so far, he said he is learning a lot and is ecstatic every time he gets a call up to the SHL.
We will continue to follow and keep you updated on Forsell’s season as it goes on and will surely have a report if he begins to be a regular in Färjestad‘s SHL lineup.