Fabian Lysell entered the WHL with inflated expectations. The first-rounder had already accumulated 26 games of SHL experience, showing a high-paced game with tools that already looked above the NHL average. The expectation was domination. By most definitions, he did not.
The skating and overwhelming pace that brought gaudy point totals in Sweden’s junior leagues and carried him to the SHL in his draft year became Lysell’s greatest limiters. WHL defenders pushed his attacks wide — and kept them there. Pucks died in the corner after fruitless, single-speed rushes that most WHL defenders tasked with matching up against Lysell had no issue managing.
Just before calendars were replaced, Lysell’s game started evolving. The outside lane dashes became stops, starts, and inside drives. Where he used to sprint into an unescapable situation, he started stacking the deck in his favour.
By the end of the season, Lysell looked like a new player, one more positioned for NHL success. His production reflected that, flirting with 1.40 points per game and 1.1 assists per game after mid-February. Last season, only nine players shot or set up more of their team’s scoring chances (27 percent), and since 2017, only 28 of the over 3300 players tracked have beaten that mark.
This is Lysell’s evolution and what it means for his projection.