The Anaheim Ducks selected Isac Lundestrom with their first pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft with the 23rd overall selection.
Lundestrom, listed at 6’ 0” and 183 pounds, skated for Lulea HF in the 2017-18 season, where he posted six goals and 15 points in 42 games at 18 years of age in the Swedish Hockey League.
Playing against men at a young age in one of the world’s top leagues, Lundestrom acquitted himself nicely by playing a solid, two-way brand of hockey.
His offensive upside is the only question mark surrounding his potential, but there is no doubt that he plays a mature game on both sides of the ice. Known for his responsible play in all three zones in Sweden, he’s also able to make plays in the opponent’s end. The underlying numbers in his case painted a very favorable picture, nicely compiled in this fantastic profile from Canucks Army.
The newly-minted Duck fills a need for Anaheim, who’s run low on young forwards in recent years as the likes of Ondrej Kase and Rickard Rakell have solidified their spots on the big club.
Anaheim was rumored to be in talks with Edmonton for the tenth overall pick per Pierre Lebrun, with Brandon Montour potentially being a trade chip. Nothing materialized there, and the Ducks went ahead and made their pick at 23.
Lundestrom is unlikely to see NHL ice next season, as he has one year remaining on his contract in Sweden. The realistic expectation should be that he finishes out his time overseas, then gets further grooming in AHL San Diego down the road.
Combine that with Ducks’ general manager Bob Murray’s willingness to be patient with his prospects, it becomes clear that Lundestrom makes his Ducks’ debut in the 2019-20 season at the earliest.
Anaheim addressed an area of need with a safe play on Friday night, although they could make out like bandits with their first pick should Lundestrom further develop his offensive game. Barring any trades in rounds two through seven, the table is now set for the Ducks to continue re-shaping their identity into a faster, more skilled team this off-season. Lundestrom mostly jibes with that.