Every year there are teams combing the European ranks to try and find the rare player who was overlooked as a junior. Those who are now showing NHL-caliber talent in their home countries but were never drafted. Players like this are unrestricted free agents and can provide an immediate talent injection for nothing more than a few hundred thousand dollars. Joakim Nygard is one of those players and has drawn interest from at least two NHL teams, but he’s not alone. Darren Dreger of TSN reports that Nygard’s teammate Theodor Lennstrom is also creating some buzz, though doesn’t indicate which teams have shown interest.
Lennstrom, 24, is another overlooked Swedish defenseman that has found success in the SHL, recording 31 points across 94 games the past two years. He would be signing just a one-year entry-level contract if he decided to come over, but teams would at least control him for a few years to determine whether he could contribute down the road.
There’s obviously no guarantee that he would contribute right away, just ask Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017 but haven’t seen much NHL time. But there are also some great stories like Lawrence Pilut, who looks like he’ll be a big part of the Buffalo Sabres blue line for some time. Pilut has just six points in 28 games this year but could be a full-time member of the Sabres next season and was acquired for nothing more than a contract slot.
Like his teammate, Lennstrom will likely look to try to find the best opportunity for playing time in the NHL. If someone can offer him a clear opportunity to contribute it may be the breaking point in negotiations since his earnings will be capped by the entry-level system.