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Prospect Update: Isac Lundestrom
By Thomas Harrington
Anaheim’s first-round pick from 2018, Isac Lundestrom completed his first full season in North America this past season, after splitting the 2018-2019 season between North America and Europe.
Lundestrom split the season between Anaheim and San Diego. He was called up to Anaheim twice, once in October and again in December. Overall, he played in 15 games for the Ducks and 43 games with the Gulls. He recorded four assists and no goals in those 15 NHL games. In Anaheim, Lundestrom didn’t get a ton of ice time. Most nights he played between 12 and 15 minutes, though he did exceed 18 minutes twice. He was used primarily in a bottom-six role. With the Gulls, he wasn’t a big-time scorer, but he put up a few more points, scoring six goals and 21 points in 43 games. He played on all four lines, but primarily lined up on San Diego’s second line while seeing a decent amount of time on the third line as well.
Lundestrom met my expectations from a season ago. When he was in San Diego, I wanted to see Lundestrom playing in the team’s top six on a regular basis. Well, he primarily played on their second line. In Anaheim, I knew that he’d struggle to score, but what I expected was for him to start showing that he could be a future third-line NHL center. Given the minutes he played, I think that he started to show that, but he’s still got a ways to go before he gets there.
My final expectation for him, regardless of where he played, was to increase his offensive production. In the NHL, he doubled his assist production from two to four but has yet to beat an NHL goaltender. In the AHL, he increased his overall production significantly from six points to 21 but still scored on average a point every other game. He actually had a pretty consistent season in the AHL, never going longer than three games without a point, but also never having a point streak longer than two games. While Lundestrom didn’t blow any of my expectations out of the water, he was able to meet them all.
This coming season, Lundestrom is actually already playing hockey in Europe. He’s on loan to Timra IK of the HockeyAllsvenksan. If and when the NHL resumes, he will return to North America, where he will likely split time between Anaheim and San Diego again. Personally, I think it will be better for his development to stay in San Diego for the entire season, but the pandemic and injuries mean that probably won’t happen.
My expectation for Lundestrom is simple: start putting the puck in the back of the net at a higher rate. When he was drafted, he wasn’t expected to become a 40 goal scorer. However, it was expected that Lundestrom would be a solid third-line pivot who could score some goals. So far, between the NHL and AHL, he’s played in 85 games over two seasons and only scored six goals, all of them in the AHL. Lundestrom has shown that he can play in the NHL in a third or fourth-line role, now he needs to show that he can score in that role. Whether it’s in Europe or North America, Lundestrom needs to increase his offensive production. The good news is that he’s off to a strong start with Timra IK.
In terms of his NHL future, Lundestrom still has some work to do. He has a strong two-way game, but his offensive skills need to improve if he wants to stick in Anaheim long term. I do think that he’ll likely get some time with the Ducks this season, but will spend a majority of the time in San Diego, and have a shot at Anaheim’s fourth line in the 2021-2022 season, once David Backes’ contract expires.
Lundestrom has one year left on his entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent next summer. While his offensive production hasn’t progressed as hoped, I do believe that the Ducks will re-sign him a year from now. If Lundestrom can come in and become a legitimate NHL player this season, then he’ll have a chance at a one-way deal next summer. However, given that I believe he’ll likely spend most of the season in San Diego, I expect him to get a one or two-year deal on a two-way contract.
The next prospect update will be on Brayden Tracey.
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December 19th, 2020