Ludwig Bystrom (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
Our prospect expert's weekly round-up of the kids making noise right now focuses on a Dallas Stars pick playing big minutes, plus the season debut of Connor McDavid and more.
With NHL rosters set, we will soon say goodbye to some Hot List favorites. Since as soon as players such as Curtis Lazar in Ottawa and Anthony Duclair of the Rangers make their big-time debuts, they will be considered graduates here. But while those players make their dreams come true, others are still on the path, so let’s take a look at some of the prospects making noise around the world right now.
Ludwig Bystrom, D – Timra (Swe.)
Getting minutes is crucial to a young player’s development, particularly on defense, a position that takes a little longer to master. So Dallas must be thrilled that one of their top young blueliners is seeing tons of ice with Timra back home in Sweden right now.
Bystrom is on loan to the second division (Allsvenskan) club from Farjestad of the Swedish League and is tops in ice time lately, playing around 24 minutes per contest. He excelled at the Traverse City rookie tournament this summer, showing off great wheels and a confident approach on the blueline. Getting used to the North American game is research he was happy to undertake.
“It’s not as much about tactics over here then in Sweden,” Bystrom said. “But it feels faster over here. When I was over in Texas last year, I got to see a little bit and it’s great hockey.”
Bystrom will likely join the American League’s Stars next season, unless he’s good enough for the NHL. But Texas is coming off a Calder Cup championship and that’s not a bad place to develop, either. Bystrom visited the team last season and hung out with fellow Swedish rearguard Patrik Nemeth. Not only did he get to see the city, but he also got to taste the local cuisine.
“We went around Austin and saw a little bit,” he said. “When I was at the hotel I went to Texas LongHorn steakhouse every night, I think.”
Packing on some pounds through brisket and biscuits may not be the actual method Bystrom uses to bulk up his 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame, but he is working on the matter back in Sweden.
“I want to be bigger and stronger so I can battle harder in the defensive zone,” he said. “It’s getting better, but I have to work on that.”
With his vision and mobility, at least the skills part of the game is more than taken care of already. Drafted 43rd overall by Dallas in 2012.
Connor McDavid, C – Erie Otters (OHL)
Through four games, McDavid is averaging three points per contest; you know, not too shabby. His ability to create and to put defenders on their heels is incredible and the speed in which he makes plays makes him dangerous every shift. Draft eligible in 2015.
Mikko Rantanen, RW – TPS (Fin.)
At nearly 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds already, it’s no surprise that Rantanen is already playing in Finland’s top league. Along with his frame, the youngster also has a booming shot and nice hands, which have all helped him to four points in his first eight games. Draft eligible in 2015.
Ivan Provorov, D – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
The Russian import is known for playing a calm game on the back end and he’s handy at both ends of the ice. On a powerful Wheaties team, Provorov has instantly forged himself to the offense with two goals and seven points in six games. Draft eligible in 2015.
Kay Schweri, RW – Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
The Swiss import has been a playmaking machine since joining the Phoenix, with 18 assists in nine games. Schweri may only have one goal in that span, but the youngster does possess a good wrist shot to go along with speed and some very nice moves. Draft eligible in 2015.
Dakota Joshua, C – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
A big dude who is willing to put in the work in order to create offense, Joshua has found his offense early with four points in three games. The Ohio State commit is tenacious on the forecheck and great in the corners. Drafted 128th overall by Toronto in 2014.
Kyle Wood, D – North Bay Battalion (OHL)
A high-riser in last year’s draft, Wood stood out because of his size and the way he produced in the playoffs. So far this season, he’s continued the trend with three goals in as many games. Wood is listed at 6-foot-5 and 217 pounds, meaning he has streamlined from last year’s 229-pound listing. Drafted 84th overall by Colorado in 2014.
Kyle Connor, C – Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
It was almost funny to see Connor and Jack Eichel on the same line at the All-American Prospects Game because the two were too similar to work together. Both were better after they were split up and Connor is off to a great start in the United States League, where his speed and smarts are big assets. The Michigan commit is draft eligible in 2015.
Michael Spacek, RW – CSOB Pojistovna Pardubice (Cze.)
Part of the growing wave of Czech prospects who are killing it out there, Spacek won silver at the world under-18s this past spring and has continued his great play in the Czech Republic’s best league. The winger has great acceleration and vision, which he has used to put up four points in nine games versus men. Draft eligible in 2015.
Zach Sawchenko, G – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
He may not be a tower like many of his fellow young netminders, but Sawchenko is already looking like a star at 16. The six-foot-tall goalie brings poise, quickness and puck-handling ability in net and helped Canada win gold at the summer Ivan Hlinka tourney. He’s rocking a 1.55 goals-against average and .950 save percentage early on. Draft eligible in 2016.