It was a different type of developmental season than Lucas Forsell had ever experienced in his young hockey career.

The youngest player selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft now has three SHL seasons under his belt and this past year was the one where he grew his game the most.

Forsell was a scorer in junior and found early success in the SHL, where he was the top goal-scorer in the 2022-23 season for players under the age of 22.

Then, this season, Forsell changed his game with some maturing of his own, the guidance of his coaching staff, and some helpful advice from Vancouver Canucks development coach Mikael Samuelsson.

“I had to improve my defensive game and I had to grind myself into the lineup because we had such a good team. Almost everyone is a national team player for Sweden. Everybody in our lineup could crack that team. So, I had to grind myself into the lineup and I think that was only a good thing for me,” said Forsell.

“I learned that I am a good grinder and can do that at the SHL level. When I came up from juniors, I scored myself into the lineup, I didn't grind myself into it. I think it was good for me personally to work hard on the forechecks, hits, and winning puck battles in the offensive zone. Just being a grinder was a great experience this year.”

Forsell’s SHL team Färjestad was at the top of the SHL table at the conclusion of the SHL season. They finished with a 30-11-3-8 record (RW-L-OTW-OTL) and were five points ahead of the second-place Växjö Lakers.

This was not the first time that Forsell has been part of a special Färjestad team. He was there when they won the 2021-22 SHL championship and the winning culture that Färjestad has had over recent years is helpful in Forsell’s development as a young player.

“You learn a lot every day, it's always good to be in a winning environment,” said Forsell about playing on the powerhouse Färjestad team in the SHL. “We have really good standards from our practices, everybody loves to work hard, and everybody on the team has the same goals. You learn from the coaching staff all the time. I’m learning what it takes on a daily basis to be in a winning environment for the whole team. I must be on top of my game every day to have a spot on a team like this, and that's good for my future.”

One of the best lessons that Forsell learned this season was how to earn ice time. Forsell is a tenacious forechecker and has good enough hands to quickly turn a forced turnover into a scoring chance.

He picked up a lot this season and earned the trust of his coaches to be used in meaningful defensive situations and grew as a two-way winger.

Forsell still has some offence in his game and likes to contribute when he can.

Mikael Samuelsson speaks highly of the motor that Forsell has in his game and the two Swedes have developed a strong relationship over the past couple of years. 

“I really like our relationship,” said Forsell of Samuelsson. “We talk once a week during the season. We just talk about my game, and how I am feeling. He comes up with stuff that he thinks I should be working on, and I like that he is in the Canucks organization. It’s nice to have a guy like that to talk to. I like how he sees my game and how we can discuss it.” 

One of the focuses in their conversations has been on how Forsell can contribute to a winning team and not worry so much about individual statistics. Samuelsson understands what needs to change in a player's game as they make the transition from the SHL to North American pro hockey, and it’s been a talking point between the developmental coach and the smooth-skating winger for years now. 

“For me personally, I will not be looking at goals and assists next season,” said Forsell. “I just want to earn as much ice time as I can, because then I know the points will come. Once I learned that in the second half of the season, I played my best hockey.” 

As Forsell looks towards his fourth SHL season, the 20-year-old has seen and grown a lot in Sweden’s top league. His focus this summer is to be in the gym a ton and continue to follow a strict diet to help him become a more powerful athlete. 

“Right now, I’m trying to just focus on my summer here and my development to gain weight, gain muscle, and just be stronger for next year.”