Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Ducks Preview: Isac Lundestrom Autograph Card

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This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: I liked doing last year's format, so I'll be doing it the same way this season as well, partly because of that but also because as a father of a toddler and a baby, I just do not have enough time to write two separate posts per day on each blog. I'll copy these on each one instead. Like last year, the entire scope of the analysis will take place here and the player will have some sort of direct connection to what's written.

Caveats: At this point, despite training camp being set to start soon, several players haven't found a team yet, many RFAs haven't signed with their respective teams, and a few clubs are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Key exits: Haydn Fleury (D), Danton Heinen (LW), Ryan Miller (G), David Backes (F), Carter Rowney (C/RW)

Key Arrivals: Greg Pateryn (D), Buddy Robinson (RW)

Top prospects: Trevor Zegras (C), Lukas Dostal (G), Jamie Drysdale (D), Mason McTavish (C), Jacob Perreault (RW), Olen Zellweger (D), Brayden Tracey (LW), Jackson LaCombe (D), Sam Colangelo (RW), Sasha Pastujov (LW)

The Anaheim Ducks have been rebuilding for a few years at this point, and young guns and prospcts like Isac Lundestrom, Zegras, Max Comtois, Drysdale, Dostal, Perreault and McTavish will be able to grow together and have eahc other's backs while they take steps to grow as a unit - but I do believe success will only come after head coach Dallas Eakins makes way for someone else... possibly new AHL bench boss Joël Bouchard.

What makes their odds look good:
Zegras begins the season as one of two heavy favourites for the Calde Trophy (with the Montréal Canadiens' Cole Caufield), and the Ducks also have one of two front-runners to start games for Team USA at the Olympics in John Gibson, which means they're also set at the most important position. You can also check "leadership" and "Stanley Cup champion" with captain Ryan Getzlaf returning to the team despite being a free agent in the off-season.

Question marks: Depth and ice time will be an issue this year, with the likes of Kevin Shattenkirk, Hampus Lindholm and Jakob Silfverberg earning top dollar but delivering very little in return for the past few seasons.

The rebuild is not over yet and the current coach doesn't seem to have the magic touch that will accelerate all the youngsters' developments at the same time. Expect another year or two before playoff contention, but a lot of these kids have the right stuff. A good first step in the right direction would be to finish ahead of the San Jose Sharks this season.

8th in the Pacific Division.

Lundeström was a first-round pick (23rd overall) in 2018, and his draft class is starting to establish itself in the NHL, like Andrei Svechnikov (2nd), Brady Tkachuk (4th), Quinn Hughes (7th), Adam Boqvist (8th), Evan Bouchard (10th), Oliver Wahlstrom (11th), Noah Dobson (12th), Joel Farabee (14th), K'Andre Miller (22nd), Philipp Kurachev (120th), and Yegor Sharangovich (141st). Others started strongly but have since taken a step back, like Rasmus Dahlin (1st) and Jesperi Kotkaniemi (3rd), while others are still adjusting to their environment, such as Filip Zadina (6th), Liam Foudy (18th), and Rasmus Sandin (29th), but players like Joe Veleno (30th) and Jacob Bernard-Docker (26th) might start showing that patience is indeed its own reward.

Lundeström is NHL-ready, having posted a point-per-game average in Sweden's second division last season (caliber below the AHL and KHL, on par with or a little above that of the Swiss League). He had posted 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) in 43 games with the AHL's San Diego Gulls as a 19-year-old in 2019-20.

He is quick, and despite only being 6' tall and 185 pounds, he is pretty good at protecting the puck; he projects as a 50-60-point player who can handle second-line duties or make players on the third line produce like second-liners.

Internationally, he won silver medals at the 2016 U-18s and 2018 World Juniors, as well as bronze with Team Sweden at the 2015 U-17s. Here he is wearing the Ducks' white (away) uniform, on the signed version of card #R-IL from Upper Deck's 2018-19 O-Pee-Chee Platinum set and Rookie Auto sub-set:
It's signed on-card in blue sharpie.

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