The Rangers are trying to trade Swedish defensive prospect, Nils Lundkvist, ahead of training camp, so let’s see what type of player he is, and what teams could use him.
Who is Nils Lundkvist?
Nils Lundkvist was drafted 28th overall in 2018. A highly touted prospect when he was drafted near the end of the first round, he only raised his stock in the year after his draft year as he completed his transition from the J20 SuperElit league to the SHL. In 2019-20, Lundkvist’s play skyrocketed as he scored 11 goals and 31 points in 45 games, breaking the league record for points by a U20 defenseman, as well as earning the eliteprospects.com SHL Junior Player of the Year award, won by players such as Elias Pettersson and Moritz Seider. However in 2020-21, Lundkvist’s D+3 year, he put up similar point totals of 14 goals and 32 points in 52 games, which didn’t exactly see him progress in any aspect of his game, although he didn’t necessarily regress. Having spent 3 years after his draft year in the SHL, it was time to come over to the US in 2021-22, as Lundkvist joined the Rangers AHL affiliate in Hartford. This season saw him adjust to the North American game, as he put up three goals and 15 points in 34 AHL games, also adding one goal and four points in 25 NHL games. It is clear that this was an adjustment period for the young defenseman, as despite putting up lackluster point totals, he still performed well on the ice as he was a net positive offensively.
Despite all of the success and accolades that Lundkvist has acquired, the Rangers and Lundkvist are working together in order to facilitate a trade. While it seems preposterous that the Rangers would trade such a solid defensive prospect, the reason for him being moved really is quite simple. It is the fact that the Rangers just have too many good defensemen, leaving no room for Lundkvist to grow into the top-4 defenseman he could be one day. There is no need to read into the Rangers lack of ability to develop prospects; however that doesn’t necessarily mean that isn’t true, Lias Andersson being proof of that. Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba rank ahead of him on the right side, and Braden Schneider seems to have fit into that 3RD role quite well. Ryan Lindgren and K’Andre Miller are the cemented top 2 LD, and Zac Jones is next in line to break into that 3 LD role, as Lundkvist is a right shot, right side defenseman.
Right shot defensemen are not a dime-a-dozen in the NHL, so the Rangers should still be seeking a package with value, despite it being known that Lundkvist is on the block. Lundkvist’s scoring prowess in the past is reason enough for teams to take a chance on him, and they will be willing to give up assets to get him as seen in the past with defensemen such as the Rangers own Adam Fox. With all of that said and done, let’s look at the top teams that Lundkvist could be moved to, and what a return package might look like.
Teams that could trade for Lundkvist and what they could trade
Anaheim Ducks: Anaheim seems to have the right side of their defense set, yet it’s only Jamie Drysdale who will look to be there long term. Unless things go well with John Klingberg, it appears that the Ducks will only have Drysdale on the right side. Jamie Drysdale and Nils Lundkvist could be a treat for Ducks fans. The Ducks also have the stock necessary to trade for Lundkvist, and not lose much.
TO ANA: Nils Lundkvist
TO NYR: 2023 2nd round pick (highest), Derek Grant
Arizona Coyotes: Arizona seriously lacks any strong defensive prospects besides Victor Söderström. Nils Lundkvist would be given a clear shot at a top-4 spot, with little to no one standing in his way. Despite this, they don’t have much to trade out for him, aside from picks.
TO ARZ: Nils Lundkvist
TO NYR: Barrett Hayton
Buffalo Sabres: The idea of a top-4 of Owen Power, Rasmus Dahlin, Nils Lundkvist, and Mattias Samuelsson/Henri Jokiharju should get Sabres’ fans salivating. While they don’t necessarily lack defensive star power, adding Lundkvist would make the Sabres’ top four one of the best in the league.
TO BUF: Nils Lundkvist
TO NYR: Zemgus Girgensons, 2023 2nd round pick
Chicago Blackhawks: While it may not necessarily be the smartest trade, a Patrick Kane for Nils Lundkvist deal might be what the Rangers are looking for. This deal however would age poorly, as Kane is exiting his prime as Lundkvist enters his.
TO CHI: Nils Lundkvist, Kaapo Kakko
TO NYR: Patrick Kane (40% retained)
Detroit Red Wings: While Moritz Seider seems to be the number one for years to come, the Red Wings do not have much else besides Simon Edvinsson. Lundkvist could slot in nicely as the 2 RD, as well as a secondary power-play quarterback giving Detroit a deadly one-two punch combo.
TO DET: Nils Lundkvist
TO NYR: Oskar Sundqvist, 2024 2nd round pick
Montreal Canadiens: Much like other rebuilding teams like the Coyotes and the Blackhawks, the Habs would love to snag a top right shot defenseman to add to their ranks. However much like the Coyotes, the Canadiens seem eager to add draft picks as opposed to older prospects.
TO MTL: Nils Lundkvist
TO NYR: Jesse Ylönen
Ottawa Senators: The newly revamped Sens offense has caused fans to realize that they lack defensive strength. While Artem Zub, Erik Brännström, and Travis Hamonic are serviceable, fans are waiting for the emergence of Jake Sanderson and Jacob Bernard-Docker to make this defense a scary one. Adding Lundkvist to this core lead by Thomas Chabot could possibly turn the Senators defense into a top 10 defense core league wide.
TO OTT: Nils Lundkvist
TO NYR: 2024 2nd round pick, 2024 4th round pick
Seattle Kraken: While Adam Larsson is a great defensive defenseman, the Kraken severely lack that star power that most successful NHL teams have. They also are lacking in strong defensive prospects, and were near the bottom of the league in power-play percentage as well, so the addition of Lundkvist could turn this team from a bottom feeder into a playoff contender.
TO SEA: Nils Lundkvist
TO NYR: John Hayden, 2023 2nd round pick
Vancouver Canucks: With their window seemingly now open with the recent signing of J.T. Miller, the Canucks’ strength on the right side is nonexistent. The addition of Lundkvist would bolster the Canucks defense considerably, and would only make their power-play stronger.
TO VAN: Nils Lundkvist
TO NYR: Michael DiPietro, 2023 3rd round pick
What the Rangers Want Back
Those are just some hypothetical trade options that the Rangers could look at, as it all depends on what they want as a return for Lundkvist. But most of these trades will revolve around adding either a pick or a forward, because the Rangers are likely seeking future assets or bottom-6 players, as the Rangers are entering their window of competition. Teams that I thought could possibly trade for Lundkvist, but are either at a win-now position where they are not seeking much change, or are not yet ready to add that top-4 NHL-ready prospect include the Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals, and Winnipeg Jets.
The Rangers are stocked on defense, so trading for any defenseman seems futile. On the forward front, they have a similar problem, as the top-3 lines seem stocked with talent. Still, with the development of Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil being imminent, and more players coming up through the wings, it could possibly see them price themselves out of New York. With that in mind, it is possible that the Rangers look to trade for a possible shake up in that bottom-6, although nothing is certain until training camp. It is also possible for the Rangers try another young prospect with Chytil and Vitali Kravtsov, leaving for a second version of the kids line if 2021 first round pick Brennan Othmann is not yet ready. The Rangers, however, have an embarrassment of riches within their roster, so it is just as likely that we see Lundkvist get traded for simple draft picks to use in future deals.