The New York Rangers already have a group of impressive young defenders, but add one name to the list. Nils Lundkvist has agreed to terms on his three-year entry-level contract. The 2018 first-round pick recently finished his fourth season with Lulea HF of the SHL and is with Sweden at the World Championship.
Lundkvist, 20, put up 32 points in 52 games this season, including 14 goals to lead all SHL defensemen. That impressive offensive output, when added to improving defensive play and excellent puck-moving ability landed him the league’s Defenseman of the Year award. All the accolades in the world don’t make Lundkvist a sure-fire NHL talent, but the 28th overall pick from 2018 has done nothing to indicate that he won’t quickly adapt to the North American game and be a difference-maker for the Rangers.
He’ll join a group that already includes Adam Fox (23), Ryan Lindgren (23), K’Andre Miller (21), and Zachary Jones (20) that are all under contract for next season, not to mention other young talents like Libor Hajek and Tarmo Reunanen. Matthew Robertson and Braden Schneider, two other high picks are signed and in the organization, while 27-year-old Jacob Trouba is still signed for another five years. It’s pretty impressive stuff from the Rangers, who despite missing the playoffs this season still have a very bright future.
Not only is Lundkvist an exceptional offensive talent, but he’s also right-handed, giving the team a little more balance among that young group. New GM Chris Drury can now decide whether or not to bring him along in the NHL next season or play it more slowly, giving him a chance to get his feet wet in the minor leagues. Of course, there may be other drastic changes that the new front office implements, meaning that decision certainly doesn’t have to be made today.