Fabian Lysell, potentially the next big deal on the NHL Boston roster, is about to suit up in Edmonton in the IIHF World Junior Championship and then will report directly to Brighton to begin what he hopes is full-time residence in the Bruins lineup.
Whether the speedy right winger, only 19, develops into a big deal remains to be sorted out in the coming weeks, months, possibly years. What we do know for certain is that he is bigger, “both in pounds and length,” he noted the other day in a phone interview from Alberta. That alone is a promising sign.
Now at nearly 6 feet and 180 pounds, Lysell has the physical presence to take a bona fide stab at a varsity spot with the Black and Gold. When rookie camp opens in September, it then becomes a matter of work, will, and skill, all variables he can control.
“I do think I can make the team,” said Lysell, drafted 21st overall last summer, when he was a light-framed 5-10 and 170 pounds. “But, you know, it’s a tough challenge and all that stuff … but I definitely believe in that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t play, you know? It’s a good team. We’ll see what happens. I’ll know more when I go [to Boston] after this tournament.”
Lysell is part of a Team Sweden contingent competing for WJC gold, picking up anew in a tourney that was scrubbed four days into play last December when COVID-19 forced everyone to go home. He is one of two Bruins’ prospects in the tournament. Riley Duran, a rising sophomore forward at Providence, is on the Team USA roster. The Bruins selected Duran with the 182nd pick in the 2020 entry draft.
Now considered the top young wannabe in the Bruins talent pipeline, along with Ohio State backliner Mason Lohrei (6-4/205), Lysell has a skill set, most of all his speed and shooting ability, that projects him as a potential top-six winger. That’s a big leap, but it happens, with another right winger, David Pastrnak, as Exhibit A.
Drafted No. 25 overall in 2014, “Pasta” was 18 when he reported to rookie camp in the fall of 2014 and was promoted to the varsity after only some eight weeks under Bruce Cassidy’s AHL tutelage. The Czech marksman is one of only five NHLers to score more than 200 goals (215 total) over the last six seasons, ranking behind only Auston Matthews (259), Alex Ovechkin (255), Leon Draisaitl (233), and Connor McDavid (223).
Pastrnak, now 6 feet and 190 pounds, already had filled out more than Lysell when reporting here as a teenager, which helped him adapt more quickly to the rigors of the NHL. It could be his slightly bigger/adult frame that now helps Lysell advance to the next level, following his very successful one season at WHL Vancouver, where he led the Giants in scoring with a line of 22-40—62.
“I was put out in a lot of different situations to get used to playing on a smaller ice surface,” said Lysell, noting how his year in junior helped him adapt to the North American game. “I think that helped me a lot. And also the language … how the systems are played out here … it’s a little bit more straightforward to the net. It helped me a lot.”
Lysell’s 22 goals ranked him second on the Giants, trailing only Senators prospect Zack Ostapchuk, who potted 26. Ostapchuk (6-3/200) was Lysell’s centerman in the WHL playoffs. A member of Team Canada, he will wear the Maple Leaf in WJC play.
When the Giants’ playoff run ended in Round 2, Lysell (an impressive 4-17—21 in a dozen postseason games), headed home to Gothenburg, a seaport on Sweden’s west coast and home to many NHLers. He has tuned up all summer with frequent on-ice sessions there with the likes of Kevin Fiala (Kings), Lucas Raymond (Red Wings), ex-Bruin Anton Blidh (now with the Avalanche), and newest Bruin Hampus Lindholm.
“Hampus had only good things to say about Boston,” said Lysell. “He said he’s really enjoyed the city and that he’s excited for me to go there.”
The WJC tourney begins Tuesday in Edmonton and Sweden will play Switzerland (Wednesday), Austria (Friday), the United States (Aug. 14), and Germany (Aug. 15) in the preliminary round. Always a tough out, the Swedes are expected to advance to the quarters. The medals get divvied up Aug. 20.
The latest Lysell would land here would be Aug. 22, some three weeks before the rest of the rooks hit the ice in Brighton. Gothenburg is nice, but he hopes the Hub of Hockey becomes his new home.
“I want to make the team, for sure,” he said. “But, I mean, that’s not my decision, I guess. Everything will get decided when that time comes, starting in a couple of days here. I’m just excited for this season and last year was good for me. This year, I’ve adjusted to North America and all that stuff, and I’m just excited for it.”
MUM’S THE WORD
No word yet on Bergeron, Krejci, or anything
Now more than three weeks post-July 1 – the start of free agency, and the ability of teams to negotiate extensions with players about to enter the final season of their contracts — it has been radio silence over at Bruins headquarters.
No word yet on a contract extension for Pastrnak.
Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, last seen dancing the night away at Tuukka Rask’s nuptials in Italy, technically remain unsigned, though word around town is that GM Don Sweeney remains confident they’re done deals, each veteran pivot to sign on for one year.
Newcomer Pavel Zacha, his salary arbitration hearing slated for Thursday, has yet to negotiate a landing spot. Paul Capizzano, his agent, last week did not respond to Globe requests for comment.
Jeremy Swayman, possibly on the cusp of becoming the franchise goaltender, also is eligible to sign an extension. No word there either.
All of these pending issues interrelate, though none is more important than tying down the 26-year-old Pastrnak, possibly through the spring of 2030-31. That would mean buying eight years of free agency, bringing him to age 35.
The price for that? Gigunda. Cast your eyes above to that list of 200-plus goal scorers. The other four big sticks in that group average a cap hit of $10.5 million, topped by McDavid’s league-high $12.5 million.
Keep in mind, though, McDavid inked that deal July 5, 2017. And Ovechkin ($9.5 million) was 36 when his latest deal (five years) began last October. It all points to a Pastrnak deal, at least at this hour, of somewhere around $11 million a year.
If the Bruins won’t pay, then someone else in the Original 32 will pony up, guaranteed. Because scorers always get their dough, as a 33-year-old Bobby Hull noted when he high-stepped it out of Chicago for Winnipeg and took those WHA bucks in the summer of ‘72.
A deal to keep front of mind when pondering the Pastrnak numbers: Artemi Panarin. The Rangers, then with Jeff Gorton their GM, filched the Russian left winger away from Columbus in the July 2019 free agency fest. Panarin was 27 at the time. The price: seven years with a $11.64 million cap hit. Panarin has not been Pastrnak’s equal as a goal scorer, but has produced at about a 10 percent better overall scoring clip when factoring in his assists.
The question becomes whether Pastrnak will want to stay if the Bruins can’t at least remain in the playoff hunt. Since their visit to the ‘19 Cup Final, they’ve submitted robust regular-season records, only to come up far short in three successive postseasons (14-17 overall). They do not look like a serious Cup contender right now. The pipeline, beyond Lysell and Lohrei, is very challenged.
If Pastrnak walks, the struggle here becomes all the greater. If he stays, at a price of around that $11 million mark, then that in itself works against bringing in other experienced playing assets that could provide a boost. All a very difficult landscape for one of the game’s premier scorers to assess.
Bergeron, 37, and Krejci, 36, are very tight fits right now for a club with only about $4.8 million in cap space. It’s even tighter if Zacha is awarded, say, $3.5 million or more. Both aged pivots can be added for short money ($1 million each?), and given hefty performance bonuses. But those bonus dollars then would be tolled forward to the 2023-24 cap hit, creating a potential financial straightjacket this time next year.
The Bruins, who sent Erik Haula to New Jersey in the Zacha swap, retain the right to walk away from Zacha, rendering him an unrestricted free agent, if they deem the arb award too high. They also have the option in such a case to reopen buyout privileges and send someone packing (examples: Craig Smith or Nick Foligno).
Swayman, his entry-level deal to expire this season, is on a mandatory two-way deal that maxes out at $925k. If he is the tender of the future, an extension of 2-5 years would be typical. Rask signed a three-year extension in November 2009 as his entry level deal was expiring, but he had yet to bump ahead of Tim Thomas in the pecking order. Depending on length of term, Swayman likely is lined up for a jump to $2 million-$5 million — the far end of which would bring him even with partner Linus Ullmark.
Checking up on some hires, new and old
The great summer NHL coaching shakeout appears to have come to an end and approximately one-third of the NHL’s 32 benches will have new bosses when the puck drops in October. Seven of the 10 hires came from the recycle bin.
In case you’ve been too immersed in your beach reading to keep track, a quick review of the changes:
▪ Boston — Jim Montgomery. Fired in the 2019-20 season less than halfway into his second season in Dallas. Only his second gig as an NHL head coach. Previously with solid USHL (Dubuque) and NCAA (Denver) tours.
▪ Chicago — Luke Richardson. First-time NHL head coach. Played 1,400-plus games as an NHL defenseman. Now takes over embattled Blackhawks, relieving interim Derek King. Tuned up for this shot with four years as a Canadiens assistant.
▪ Dallas — Peter DeBoer. Bench boss stop No. 5, following stints with Florida, New Jersey, San Jose, and Vegas. Teams typically play well (.566 points percentage). Twice led clubs (Devils and Sharks) to Cup Final, but came up short). Takes over for Rick Bowness.
▪ Detroit — Derek Lalonde. Biggest surprise of the new crop. From Brasher Falls, N.Y., was 46 when he got first NHL shot as one of Jon Cooper’s assistants in Tampa. Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman hoping some of the Coop magic rubbed off. Replaces longtime boss Jeff Blashill.
▪ Florida — Paul Maurice. Ex-Whalers coach, now with 1,685 games as NHL bench boss and one trip to Cup Final (’02 Carolina). By far the best team he’s inherited. Panthers dumped Andrew Brunette after his Presidents’ Trophy winners flamed out in Round 2 vs. the Lightning.
▪ Las Vegas — Bruce Cassidy. Takes over from DeBoer, who was going to join him as a Team Canada assistant for this year’s Olympics. Proven winner with Bruins (.672 point percentage). Abruptly ditched June 6 after initially being told he would be back in charge for 2022-23.
NY Islanders — Lane Lambert. Former defenseman, played his last NHL game as a member of the Nordiques (a line also on Claude Julien’s rèsumè). Takes over for the departed Barry Trotz (yet to be rehired). First shot for Lambert, 57, after 11 seasons as NHL assistant.
▪ Philadelphia — John Tortorella. Interim Mike Yeo (relief pitcher for Alain Vigneault) got the gate and now it’s Torts’s turn to wring the marrow out of a team of misfit toys. Team No. 5 for Torts. Stay could be brief.
▪ San Jose — David Quinn. Made it to Don Sweeney’s short list prior to the Montgomery hire. A second chance for Quinny, the ex-BU coach, who served well as the transition coach with the Rangers, only to be dumped as the good times arrived. The Sharks booted Bob Boughner from the bench before hiring Mike Grier as new GM.
▪ Winnipeg — Rick Bowness. Popular ex-Bruins bench boss, now the longest serving coach in NHL history (including his years as an assistant). Succeeds Dave Lowry, who filled in after Maurice walked from the job. Guided Stars to ‘20 Cup Final in wake of Montgomery getting the gate.
That massive extension Jonathan Huberdeau (eight years at $10.5 million) signed with Calgary on Thursday is the richest in Flames history, and was juiced up in part due to: 1. Losing Johnny Gaudreau to Columbus, and 2. Getting forced to deal Matthew Tkachuk to Florida in thedeal that netted Huberdeau. Huberdeau had one year remaining on his Panthers pact, which means the crafty left winger will turn 38 as the deal expires. Solid citizen. Effective player. But Flames have run the risk that years 5, 6, 7, and 8 will look very pricey … Hired on here as scout soon after Peter Chiarelli became the Bruins GM, Scott Fitzgerald now is the director of player personnel for the Sharks. Great opportunity for a solid guy, whose brother is ex-Bruin forward Tom Fitzgerald, now the Devils GM … Mike Grier’s eldest son, Jayden, a recent St. Sebastian’s grad, is headed to Salmon Arm, British Columbia, for a season in the BCHL before heading to college. “Some Division 3 schools were looking at him,” said Mike, recently in Boston, tidying up loose ends before the full-time move to San Jose. “The year out west should be good for him, maybe lift his profile for D1, learn some good life skills. He’s a good student. I’m all for it.” …Prospect Brett Harrison, who recently signed his entry deal with the Bruins, grew up in Dorchester, Ontario, and his grandfather was good pals with ex-Bruins defenseman (and later an assistant coach) Gary Doak, of the Goderich, Ontario, Doaks … Safe, smart landing by John Klingberg, hooking on with the rising Ducks for a one-year UFA deal worth $7 million. He and the Stars talked long and hard but couldn’t agree on the long-term deal he wanted there after eight productive seasons at right D in Big D. It’s a different era, and a different game, but the pickup is reminiscent of the Ducks signing the smooth-skating Scott Niedermayer to a four-year deal ($6.75 million per) prior to the 2005-06 season. “Needs” was 32 at the time and helped the Ducks to a Cup win only one year later … Still no official word, but Nashville remains a strong contender to host next June’s amateur entry draft … Both Kris Letang (941 games) and Evgeni Malkin (981 games), recently re-signed by the Penguins, should crack the 1,000-game plateau in the upcoming season. If so, it will be the first time two teammates, each of whom never played for another team, rang up No. 1,000 in the same season. New Jersey’s Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora each did it in 2011-12, but Sykora, then playing in his final NHL season, had played for five other clubs, including two seasons with the Penguins.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.