Nils Lundqvist Acquisition of a High Ceiling Step by Jim Neal

Not often Dallas stars General Manager Jim Neil has made a deal for a player under the age of 23 since taking the helm in 2013. Since the acquisition of Tyler Seguin on July 4 of that year, Nill has only traded players under that age limit – Mattias Janmark, who acquired from Detroit Red Wings in 2015; and Dillon Hetherington, who acquired it in 2017.

Janmark went on to play four full seasons with the Superstars, and suffered a near-finished hereditary knee injury from which he fought back to playing. Heatherington made just 11 appearances for Dallas and primarily served as the AHL’s deep cut for the big club. So.. mixed results in limited sample sizes for players of this age that Neil acquired.

Late last night, the team announced that it had acquired 22-year-old Swedish defender Nils Lundqvist from New York Rangers in exchange for a conditional first-round selection of 2023 and a conditional fourth-round selection of 2024. The first-round selection in next year’s draft is a top-10 protected, so if Dallas is to climb into the top 10 next year, the first-round pick becomes a non-protected first-round pick for 2019 2024. If Lundkvist scores a total of 55 points between this season and the next, then the 2024 fourth round pick becomes 2025 third round.

This is the first trade Jim Neal has ever made a first-round pick since arriving in Dallas. He only had one deal, for Mats Zuccarello, that could have turned into picks in the first round. However, those conditions (re-recorded by Zuccarello in Dallas) were never fulfilled, and Dallas maintained their first-round picks in that trade.

Lundkvist is a right-wing defenseman, a prominent position in which Dallas lacks depth following the departure of John Klingberg on free agency. Lundkvist is also cost controlled; He’s in the second year of his entry-level deal with a $925,000 cap. He’s known for being an attacking defensive man, something that Dallas now lacks behind Miro Heskanen and Thomas Harley.

He appeared in 25 games for Rangers last season, scoring one goal and three assists. Lundkvist admitted to the experience of stepping away from his game a bit. “It was my first year in North America and it didn’t go as planned,” Lundqvist said. “But I also learned a lot from him. They are a tough team to break into in New York. For me, I think I learned a lot from that year, and had some good years back home in Sweden before I went. I feel like I missed a little bit of my game back home in Sweden. My strength playing back home in Sweden was playing with the puck.When I played 25 games in the National Hockey League I felt like I lost it a little bit and played very cautiously.I think last year was tough but there was a lot to learn from. [I want to] Going back a little bit to my Swedish style of play and trying to play with more courage and a little bit of superiority.”

Lundqvist is expected to land in Austin on Wednesday night and could be on the ice in the team’s first sessions Thursday morning.

He will have some competition to make the NHL roster. There are some fixed places that have been taken by Miro Heskanen, Ryan Sutter, Issa Lindell and Jani Hakanba. Thomas Harley was placed in that sixth place available for quite some time. But if he’s struggling in camp, he could open the door for Lunkvist to take the team out of the gate this season.

It’s just one of the training camp fights we’ll be watching unfold this week as sessions on the snow begin at the HEB Center in Cedar Park.