General Manager Jim Nill felt the defense was missing something before the start of the 2022-23 season.
Solution: A talented, young defenseman who could develop into an offensive stalwart named Nils Lundkvist from the New York Rangers.

Dallas acquired the Swedish blueliner from New York for a handful of picks, including a conditional first-round selection in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Lundqvist is very young at 23 years old and the Rangers traded the acquired pick to St. Louis later on, making it difficult to accurately assess the trade at this time. Today, the former Ranger is beginning to shine like a star.

Lundqvist’s presence can be felt anytime he’s on the ice in the current playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche despite minimal time-on-ice (TOI). He posted an assist in Game Two for his first career point in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also delivered one hit in his 5:26 TOI. He’s been a factor in every game, being on the ice for at least one goal in games One and Three while suffering a -1 in Game Two. Lundqvist is not a defensive rover looking to lay out the biggest hits all night long.

Instead, the ex-Ranger is a creative, right-handed shooting defenseman well-adept at transitioning the puck.

“Nils is a skilled defenseman that adjusted to the North American game in [2021-22] and has a high ceiling,” Dallas Stars General Manger Jim Nill told the Associated Press in Sept. 2022 after making the deal with New York.

“We felt that adding a creative player like Nils to our defensive group was necessary, and he has a tremendous opportunity to establish himself as an everyday impact defenseman at the NHL level.”

Ranger Days

The 5’11 defenseman has proved himself everywhere but the NHL. Splitting his rookie year between the Rangers and their American Hockey League affiliate, Lundkvist tallied four points in 25 NHL games and 15 points across 34 AHL contests.

The young Swede held an impressive resume before touching NHL ice. He won the Swedish Hockey League’s Salming Trophy in 2020-21, awarded annually to the best Swedish-born defenseman in the SHL as selected by Hockey Hall of Fame member Borje Salming. Lundqvist’s 14 goals that season were the most in one season by a defenseman under the age of 21 in SHL history.

Year Two in Dallas

PHOTO: Andy Cross/ The Denver Post

Being paired up with Esa Lindell prior to the Chris Tanev trade and being currently paired up with Ryan Suter allows Lundqvist to play to his strengths. Lindell and Suter clear bodies, block shots, and deflect passes, and are strong on the boards against heavy forwards, while Lundqvist plays his best when the puck is on his stick. He can get the puck out quickly with precision passing and launch the biscuit into the neutral zone, where the Dallas forwards pick it up, and Kate goes into the offensive zone with speed.

His numbers improved this season. His plus/minus was above 0 for the first time in his career (+13), and he produced 19 points after recording 16 points and a -5 rating last season. The Pitea, Sweden native is on a mission to show that he was worth giving up a first round pick for.

Round Two against Colorado may be the spark that lights a special career.


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