Breaking News

First impressions of NY Rangers prospects

First impressions of NY Rangers prospects

TARRYTOWN – The timing is just right.

At least that’s the hope for Nils Lundkvist.

The 2018 first-round pick had opportunities to come to New York and compete for a role with the Rangers in previous years, but he opted to wait until he felt sure he was ready.

While most prospects are in a rush to make the NHL as quickly as possible, Lundkvist believes his patience bolstered his preparedness.

“There’s been talking throughout every season – and after every season – about what the best (decision) for me was going to be,” he said following the first practice of development camp at the MSG Training Center on Saturday. “It always ended up that playing back home in the SHL with Luleå has been the best opportunity for me to develop.”

DEVELOPMENT CAMP PREVIEW: Four things I’m watching for

TAKEAWAYS: GM Chris Drury’s offseason plan will be tested soon

By biding his time, the right-handed shooting defenseman was able to round out his game and add strength to his 5-foot-10 frame. He’s always been considered a gifted offensive player, but likely would have struggled with the physical aspects of defending the best players in the world.

Rather than risk making the jump too soon, Lundkvist worked at his craft and established himself as a top player in the Swedish Hockey League. His efforts were rewarded last season when he was named the Salming Trophy winner, which is given to the league’s best Swedish-born defenseman.

He’s risen as arguably the No. 1 prospect in the Rangers’ system and has finally arrived as a strong candidate to earn a spot in the opening night lineup.

“Instead of being 18 when you come over, now I’m 21,” he noted. “I got older, I got bigger, I got stronger.”

Lundkvist’s lightning quick shot was on display at Saturday’s practice, as was his willingness to engage in puck battles and clog up passing lanes.