Going into the 2019-20 season, Anton Lundell was widely regarded as a top three prospect after impressing in his rookie campaign with HIFK from the Finnish capital, Helsinki. Although he impressed in Liiga when he was 17 years old, he ended up falling out of the top 10 before the florida panthers he picked it up with the 12th overall pick.
Last year, the presumed first overall pick heading into the 2020-21 campaign was Uleåborg native Aatu Räty. A difficult season in Liiga later, and Räty not only missed the chance to be the first Finnish player selected as number one overall, but even dropped out of the entire first round before being picked up by the New York Islanders at election 52.
In the years leading up to the 2022 Draft, there was talk around town that this would be a competition between three highly-skilled youngsters: OHL Exceptional Status rhinestone Shane Wright, Alberta native Matthew Savoie and prospect what we are covering today; Finnish-Canadian striker Brad Lambert.
As things currently stand, two weeks before the Bell Center matchup that will be the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Wright still looks like insurance for the top three, while both Savoie and Lambert have fallen a bit out of favour. Especially the Finn, who suddenly seems unsure about being picked with a top 10 pick on July 7.
Place of birth: Lahti, Finland
Date of Birth: December 19, 2003
Position: Centre/Right Wing
Weight: 183 pounds
Equipment: Pelicans (League)
Let’s get down to business here. What happened between last year and now that made the hockey community angry at Lambert? After all, this is a player who played Liiga games for HIFK as early as the 2019-20 season. After enjoying a breakout year, scoring 15 points in 48 games in 2020-21 with JYVäskylä’s JYP, this year Lambert was supposed to make the step from boy to man, from super-talent to a fully-fledged star in Finnish hockey. Sadly, his season took a nosedive from the start and he never really recovered, not unlike what we saw earlier from the aforementioned Räty.
After only contributing two goals and fewer than a handful of assists during the first half of the season, JYP and Lambert agreed to opt out of his contract, giving him a chance at a fresh start elsewhere. He opted for a familiar alternative, choosing to sign with the Pelicans from his hometown of Lahti. Returning home would surely serve the youngster well and give him the best chance to shine as he improves on his decline in the draft. Instead, the scenario that occurred was eerily similar to what he had done in JYP. He played around 14 minutes a game and managed just four more points before the season was over.
A total tally of 10 points over a span of 48 combined games across two Liiga teams was not enough to keep Lambert in the top three, or even the top five, when the final draft rankings began to be released. It remains to be seen how much we should really get out of this bad year.
Elite prospects: #14
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #eleven
NHL core scan: #10 (European skaters)
Corey Pronman (Atletico) #14
Scott Wheeler (Atletico): #8
As a player, Brad Lambert is a wonderfully gifted transition player who shines through his skating ability and overall mobility. elite prospects for one ranked him as the best straight line skater in this entire draft during a survey of his staff, and Corey Pronman of the athletic was of the same opinion when he ranked players into individual skill categories, much like McKeen’s when they ranked the fastest skater.
His problem right now seems to be that he thinks he’s equally impressive in every other aspect of his game. His offensive decision-making remains very raw, as more often than not he tries to look for difficult passes or shots instead of just stretching out plays and bidding his time. Some would call it low hockey IQ, while others would downgrade it into the growing pains category.
As frustrating as it can be for teammates and coaches alike to watch, we have to remember that we’re talking about an 18-year-old. With the proper structure around you, there are at least some pretty important tools to work with and mold into a future NHLer.
In addition to skating technique and rhythm, Lambert impresses with good size and overall good creativity that, when used correctly, is easy on the eyes. He was able to demonstrate some of his skill level when he played his teammates at the abbreviated Junior World Championship in December. In the two games played before the tournament closed, Lambert played very well, posting five points and consistently looking like a man among the boys.
I can imagine some people reacting to his 10 points this season and pointing fingers at Juraj Slafkovsky, who pulled off the exact same output this year. However, a full comparison cannot be made here.
Firstly, Slafkovsky played 17 fewer Liiga games in 2021-22. Second, he benefited from playing for a weaker hockey nation, which means he was able to demonstrate his growth on an international stage as a stronger counterpart to his weaker one. domestic production. Last but not least, whether you agree with the assessment or not, expectations will always be higher in year two if you’ve already enjoyed a successful rookie campaign. By then, a year ago, Slafkovsky had not played in a single Liiga match and had also not produced a single point in his 11 caps (under-20 and men’s team) for Slovakia. Lambert had already racked up 50 senior games and also contributed for Finland on their way to a bronze medal at World Juniors 2021. Slavkovsky is this year’s flavor of the month. Simultaneously, the exclamation point that was 2021 Brad Lambert has been reshaped into something more akin to a question mark.
If Lambert’s slide continues on the first night of the draft and he suddenly drops out of the top 15, this is the type of player I personally would like Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton to consider trading for. Offering elite transition ability and a top-six edge, he could do much worse with a mid-first-round draft pick.