Nils Lundkvist is the Silver Lining of the Tony DeAngelo Situation

Hello everyone! Before I get started here I’d like to introduce myself. I used to write and host a podcast for a different hockey site. I took some time away from writing to focus on launching a new sports podcast, Skyscraper Sports. The writing itch stayed with me and I wanted to find a new place to write about the team I love and to interact with some great people. I shot Dave a DM and here we are! I’m extremely thrilled to be a part of BSD and I hope you all enjoy my work. Let’s start with how Nils Lundkvist was always going to replace Tony DeAngelo. The process is just accelerated now.

It’s been a tough few days in Rangerstown. The team’s lackluster play this early in the season has been enough. Combine that with the incident surrounding defenseman Tony DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev has put a bit of a dark cloud over the team. The good news is, even with this incident currently hanging over the organization, there is a silver lining.

Tony DeAngelo has played his last game as a Ranger and will soon be traded away (hopefully for a center). This leaves an open spot on the Rangers third pair that is just waiting to be filled by a certain prospect over in Sweden.

Bringing Lundkvist overseas

Nils Lundkvist, the Rangers prized first-round pick, 28th overall, from the 2018 Entry Draft has been tearing up the SHL. You can be sure that this incident with DeAngelo has only fueled the organization to get him over here as fast as they can. Now here is where we need to be a little bit patient Rangers fans.

Lundkvist cannot come over until his contract with Lulea ends in March when the SHL season comes to an end. This doesn’t include playoffs. Lulea currently sits third overall in the SHL standings with 19 wins on the season and if they do make the playoffs, that can be up to seven more weeks Lundkvist stays in Sweden. Per Larry Brooks, Lundkvist also has to get a release from the IIHF as well.

Rest assured though, Lundkvist will be here sooner rather than later and the spot for him to step right in on the blueline has now been opened.

Offensive skills

Lundkvist has ascended up Rangers prospects lists since his draft day. Since the 2017-18 SHL season, Lundkvist has put up 69 points in 151 games, including a 31 point season in 2019-20. The Junior Hockey Player of the Year in 2020, Lundkvist continues to play top-four minutes for Lulea. He is currently tied for 10th in points by defenseman this season.

Lundkvist clearly has offensive prowess. According to Dobber Prospects‘ PNHLe model, which predicts a prospect’s point totals at the NHL level, Lundkvist is projected to be a first-pair talent when he blossoms. It will be a very fun competition between him and Adam Fox over the next few years to see who gets to quarterback the Rangers top power-play unit. 

Defensive ability

Clearly Lundkvist does not have an issue in the offensive zone. But he’s a defenseman, so can he actually defend? Will he succeed in the areas DeAngelo didn’t while he was here?

The signs clearly point to him being a more than competent defenseman in his own end. As we’ve seen with DeAngelo, all the offensive firepower in the world doesn’t mean anything if you keep getting embarrassed in your own end. We’ve seen the Aho and Barzal highlights.

Lundkvist thankfully is much more defensively sound than DeAngelo ever was. There will of course be growing pains as he adjusts to the NHL, but Lundkvist will be a much better overall defenseman over the course of his career. The Rangers already have Fox (who is quickly establishing himself as the Rangers number one defenseman) and K’Andre Miller, with his smooth skating and solid defensive play. Lundkvist looks to be a part of what will one day soon be one of the most dynamic top-4 defense corps in the NHL.

Unexpected pressure

Lundkvist will have a bit of added pressure on his shoulders though when he enters the league. As I said before, Lundkvist was picked 28th overall in 2018. That pick was the pick the Rangers acquired in the Ryan McDonagh trade. So far the returns on that trade have been less than stellar.

Libor Hajek can’t seem to crack this lineup. Brett Howden seems to be the Rangers 4C. Nothing more, nothing less. Vlad Namestnikov was traded multiple times within the past year. This leaves Lundkivst, and fellow Swedish prospect Karl Henriksson, as the last two pieces from the trade. Thankfully both seem to be on a nice upward trajectory.

DeAngelo’s spot was always Lundkvist’s to take. Because of recent events and the looming trade of DeAngelo, Lundkvist’s spot is more than assured once he can make his way over from Europe. Lundkvist will soon look to make his mark on the NHL, and Rangers fans can be assured his play will make DeAngelo a distant memory.

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    • You pick the best player available and not by position. Hasn’t your Mamma taught you anything? 😉

    • yeah….too bad we took a guy who plays the game with intensity, grit and conviction. Who needs a D man who will impose his will, hits, overpowers one-hand pushes and is composed and doesn’t over-do the physicality or take stupid penalties but works to make the play?

    • We never pick the best available center. I think Gorton would rather make a deal for an NHL quality center than take a chance on a young center. Either way, we need to groom more centers for the NHL. This team has some real decisions to make regarding Zibby and Strome.

      • I wouldn’t worry (too much) about Zib. We know what he can do, so he doesn’t have to prove himself…obviously!

        However, having COVID-19 and learning more about this virus from previous posts on this site (from those who have had it, and from hearing from other who had it –all good points, btw!), we can wait a few more weeks…and hopefully will see this super-talented player come back again.

    • I wouldn’t say Zero as we do have Barron, Hendrickson, Vierling and Tarnstrom as legit prospects.We don’t have a clear potential superstar center in the system, but we do have center depth. It is the biggest weakness in our system, but not non-existent.

  • Swedish defensemen, in general, are defensively sound and many can play both ways very intelligently. But Nils seems to have progressed to a big step above the average Swedish d-man and maybe just a small step below Rasmus Dahlin who was the first overall pick in his draft year.

    Dahlin is a great skater & play maker with great edge work but Nils is no slouch either. Great pick at #28 who single-handedly salvages the McDonagh trade.

    • I can think of a few Swedish D that aren’t defensively solid, but Adam Boqvist aside, most of them aren’t in the NHL. Lundkvist is sneaky hood on D, also is really good away from the puck with setting moving screens on F1 for his partner.

      But I don’t think he’ll be a 1st pair D. He’s good, but not that good in Sweden. The size and lack of elite offensive skills gets him into Anton Stralman territory

  • This kid better be the next coming of Erik Karlsson, it’s a lot easier playing defense when the rink is the size of an ocean and you don’t have Tom Wilson baring down on you.

    I get why most of you hate Tony…but he ran the Rangers power play to perfection. He got benched for being a hot head but he got yo-yo’d by Quinn. Jack Johnson would be the worst dman in the AHL. Smith plays every 3rd game well and then sucks the other 2. You put Adam Fox with Jack Johnson and he wont be very good either.

    Tony is the worst human being on the earth…but Lebron James, 6’7 260lbs, can say with a straight face that he is afraid to leave his 25mm home in a gated community and people cry for his struggles.

  • even if tda was a saint here id say there is no way he made it to the end of his deal here. the events the past few weeks just accelerated things but there was always gonna be a transition to nils. between fox increased role and upward pressure from nils in europe, the recent pick of schneider, gotta believe tony was feeling the pinch as well and imo may have been part of the short fuse early on here. was it a ‘lame duck deal’? no bc hes still at minimum pocketing 5m gross so no one is crying for him in that respect. anyway, hopefully the transition get can get settled sooner than later.

  • Welcome, Russ, nice debut, and thanks in advance!

    I agree that a long-term problem is solved here — they’re set up nicely going forward at RD.

  • Brandon first, and now Russ…
    …what a “showcase of talent” we got here –excellent debuts by both!

    Will certainly enjoy the articles to come from our new Blueshirt buddies.
    Welcome Aboard. 🙂

  • The “cancel culture” will come back to haunt the Rangers. The so called Ranger execs who pretended to make the big decision were being directed by much higher authority. Sometimes leadership requires picking the fight…but obviously no one in the Ranger organization has read any leadership material. Thus…no Captain…no trust…control. This Ranger team is 1 or 2 parts away from dynasty potential. They must find the leader within to achieve their potential. But..alas…the organization will likely snuf out that fire through control. Get out of the way Mr.’s Quinn, Gorton, Davidson. Coach the style of this team, not their hearts…

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