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2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Ludvig Bystrom

Ludvig Bystrom, D

Born: Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, 7/20/94
Bio: 6’0, 195 lbs., L
MoDo, Elitserien
Rankings: ISS – 28; CSS – 8 (EU)

The Skinny: With an intelligent two-way game and a surprisingly solid skillset, Ludvig Bystrom might a steal in the late-first – but will the absence of a dynamic upside hold him back from even loftier goals?

Arguably the top Euro defender in 2012 (though his countryman, Hampus Lindholm, is ranked slightly more highly by this organization), Ludvig Bystrom has risen quickly up draft-boards this season.

The Swedish blueliner’s offensive game is fairly developed. He was nearly a point-per-game player in his time with MoDo’s U-20 squad (29 in 34 games) and spent twenty games with MoDo’s top squad.

He’s not a sniper from the point. Bystrom will aggressively attack off the rush and drive the net in-zone but his shot is hardly a cannon. He thrives in the distribution game where his intelligence and excellent, crisp passes make him a threat as a powerplay quarterback. He’s a plus-skater with surprising elusiveness and above-average acceleration.

The same goes for his puck-moving game from the back-end. His zone-exits aren’t always of the ‘dramatic’ variety but his performance is usually impeccable and his passes (while understated) are uniformly outstanding: He catches teammates in-stride and right on the tape. He’s capable of passing through seams and under-pressure with a high level of effectiveness.

Bystrom thrives defensively thanks to effective positioning and intelligent gap-control. His solid skating game allows him to keep pace with attackers and he is difficult to shake. He’s not a punishing hitter but will look for the hip-check when it’s available and can hold his own against all but the heaviest forechecks.

In-zone, he’s a deliberate defender, rarely chasing his man around the zone willy-nilly. Patiently filling lanes, he is loath to overcommit to pressure and has advanced defensive awareness for a kid who won’t turn 18 until after the draft. He possesses an active stick and can dispossess opponents cleanly.

Unfortunately, Bystrom lacks ‘ideal’ size and strength that NHL teams want in first-round defensemen. Despite his intelligence, he’s not perfect (a third-period turnover in the U-18 gold medal game gifted a goal to the US) and his offensive potential isn’t up there with Pouliot, Rielly and Koekkoek in this class. Some scouts have pointed to his grit and physicality as substandard – but these are certainly not universal positions.

Still, he’s a surefire NHL-caliber defenseman with two-way potential and excellent instincts at both ends of the ice. He could easily sneak into the 20s, but if he doesn’t, some team in the 30s will pick up an excellent prospect. He’ll be a steal if he develops his strength and physical game but even without those things, he has much of what teams are looking for.

Ideal Fits: Teams looking for solid defenseman with decent upside in the late first and early second: Boston, New York, Edmonton, Vancouver.

Why Your Team Will Take Him: Because they think his upside warranted a first-round selection; because they know his plus-intelligence and skating game make him a virtual lock as a NHL defenseman.

Why Your Team Will Pass on Him: Because they’re looking for a bigger hit (at the expense of more risk); because they think his tools have been overrated by scouting services.

Strengths: Skating, Puck-Possession, Defensive Play, Poise, Hockey IQ, Distribution (and Puck-Moving)

Weaknesses/Concerns: Strength, Size, Shot, Grit

Projection: Two-Way Second-Pairing Defenseman (5g, 40p potential)

Predicted 2012 NHL Draft Range: First/Second Round (18-36)

Overall Rank: 31

E.U. Rank: 10

Elitserien Rank: 6

Defenseman Rank: 13

Sweden National Rank: 6


Bob is the Boston Bruins correspondent for The Hockey Writers and a credentialed member of the Providence Bruins' Media.

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