WEIGHT: 172 LBS
DRAFT YEAR PRODUCTION: Djurgårdens IF (SHL) 40 GP, 11G, 12A, 23PTS
RANKING: No. 1 European Skater, NHL Central Scouting
WHAT'S THE BUZZ
"He's just a crafty problem-solver who knows his game and how to play within himself to make something happen from shift-to-shift."
- Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
CUT TO THE CHASE
If you're looking for an offensive powerhouse, with incredible play-making vision, William Eklund is your guy.
The Swedish NHL prospect is ranked as the top International skater for the 2021 Draft, and is looking to join an NHL team after rising through the Djugardens youth system, joining their Swedish Hockey League club this past year as an 18-year-old. With 23 points in 40 games, playing against men, Eklund was named Rookie of the Year in the SHL. Of his 11 goals, three were game-winners, and he added another two on the power play.
Eklund's name may be familiar to New Jersey Devils fans as he was teammates (and often linemates) with 2020 draft pick Alexander Holtz. When Eklund recently met the media ahead of next week's draft, he shared his thoughts on being a potential high-pick, and what it would be like if New Jersey were to select him fourth overall.
"He is a childhood friend. I've known him for a long time. It would be cool, but I don't know actually. Every team would be cool. But of course, playing with Alex is a dream."
And every team would of course be 'cool' with having Eklund on their team as well, or at the very least in their system. He plays a 200-foot game with an excellent shot and enviable creativity. Eklund will likely fit into a team's top-six forward group in the future as he continues to develop.
"I think I have to improve my shooting," said Eklund. "I think I have to get that shot faster and better in tight areas. I also have to have better top speed. I think I'm more of a quick player than fast in the long term. Those are two things I really need to improve."
Eklund's rookie season in the SHL was the fifth-most productive season ever for an SHL player entering the NHL Draft for the first time. He managed that while missing time testing positive for Covid-19 and missing another three weeks after undergoing an appendectomy in January.
DID YOU KNOW
Eklund was awarded the E.J. McGuire Award presented by NHL Central Scouting. The award is given to the candidate who best exemplifies commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness, and athleticism.
The 18-year-old Swede was personally handed the award by former NHL forward Michael Holmqvist at Eklund's home in Sweden.
"William Eklund is being presented with the E.J. McGuire award as he distinctly exemplifies the skills and attributes the award recognizes," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. "He is a highly skilled prospect who plays the game with a drive and determination that earned him SHL Rookie of the Year while playing a prominent role with Djurgarden. This season, William missed time with illness and an injury costing him the opportunity to play for Sweden at the World Juniors, yet he persevered through these setbacks and always came back stronger and more determined displaying his trademark competitive will to win."