William Eklund could be the first Sweden-born left wing to be the first selected at his position in the NHL Draft since the Colorado Avalanche chose left wing Gabriel Landeskog No. 2 in the 2011 NHL Draft.
The 18-year-old (5-foot-10, 176 pounds) played most of the season on a line with his good friend, New Jersey Devils forward prospect Alexander Holtz, with Djurgarden of the Swedish Hockey League, the top professional league in the country.
He received the 2021 E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence, presented annually to the top draft prospect who best exemplifies commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism.
"I can see a bit of (former NHL forward) Henrik Zetterberg in him but also a bit of (Nashville Predators forward) Filip Forsberg with his way of getting those pucks to the net," Djurgarden CEO Thomas Kraft said of Eklund. "He can create intelligent plays on the rush, cover the puck tight along the boards and is very effective on the cycle.
"He has that unique ability to make a difference and win games, which obviously is a great asset for a player his, or any age, for that matter."
Here are NHL.com's top 10 left wings available for the 2021 NHL Draft:
1. William Eklund, Djurgarden (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (International skaters)
Eklund has good speed, puck skills and vision. He scored 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists), including two power-play goals and three game-winning goals, and had 63 shots on goal while averaging 15:29 of ice time in 40 games, and was named SHL rookie of the year. He excelled while overcame significant adversity this season, including an emergency appendectomy and a positive COVID-19 test.
2. Brennan Othmann, Flint (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 8 (North American skaters)
With the Ontario Hockey League not playing this season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, Othmann (6-0, 175) played on loan with Olten in the Swiss League, the second-highest professional league in Switzerland. The 18-year-old scored 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 34 games playing with and against experienced professionals, and also showed a willingness to block shots and make the game tough on opponents. He scored six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games to help Canada win the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. He scored a goal and took seven shots on goal in a 5-3 win against Russia in the championship game.
3. Zachary L'Heureux, Halifax (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 30 (North American skaters)
L'Heureux (5-11, 196) may have the best hands of any draft-eligible prospect in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, according to J-F Damphousse of NHL Central Scouting. The 18-year-old was second on Halifax with 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) and 130 shots on goal in 33 games. He's at his best when playing physical and driving to the net.
4. Dylan Duke, USA U-18 (NTDP)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 29 (North American skaters)
Duke (5-10, 175) is relentless on the forecheck and will hunt pucks down to create offense off pressure. The 18-year-old was second on the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team with 29 goals and 49 points in 50 games, tying for first with nine power-play goals and four game-winning goals. He scored three goals in five games for the United States at the U-18s.
5. William Stromgren, Modo (SWE-2)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 14 (International skaters)
Stromgren (6-3, 175) scored five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games for third-place Sweden at the U-18 World Championship. The 18-year-old, who possesses good speed and mobility, started the season with Modo's Under-20 team, scoring 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 14 games. He scored nine points (three goals, six assists) in 27 games with Modo in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division.
6. Aleksandr Kisakov, Dynamo Moscow 2 (RUS-JR)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 7 (International skaters)
Kisakov (5-10, 150) loves to get involved where the action is, according to Goran Stubb, European director of Central Scouting. The 18-year-old was second in the MHL, Russia's junior league, with 73 points (36 goals, 37 assists) in 61 games, and scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 14 playoff games to help Dynamo Moscow win the MHL championship. He plays bigger than his frame, will go to key areas to retrieve pucks and can play both left and right wing.
7. Prokhor Poltapov, CSKA 2 (RUS-JR)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 18 (International skaters)
Poltapov (6-0, 176) has a great motor and excellent offensive instincts, and uses his skating speed and hockey sense on every shift, according to Stubb. The 18-year-old led his team with 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games in Russia's junior league, and played well enough to make his debut in the Kontinental Hockey League, playing one game with CSKA.
8. Conner Roulette, Seattle (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 36 (North American skaters)
Roulette (5-11, 180) is a goal-scorer with game-breaking ability, according to Central Scouting's John Williams. The 18-year-old found ways to produce in a secondary role for Canada at the U-18s, scoring five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games. Roulette also scored 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 11 Western Hockey League games.
9. Ayrton Martino, Omaha (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 46 (North American skaters)
Martino (5-11, 160) led United States Hockey League rookies with 56 points (18 goals, 38 assists) in 38 games, his average of 1.47 points per game was fifth among all USHL players, and he scored 20 power-play points (four goals, 16 assists) and three shorthanded points (two goals, one assist). The 18-year-old is an outstanding playmaker who has shown quickness in all areas. He is committed to play at Clarkson University next season.
10. Ville Koivunen, Karpat Jr. (FIN-JR)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 20 (International skaters)
Koivunen (5-11, 161), who reads the game well and has showcased good puck control in tight situations, scored 49 points (23 goals, 26 assists) in 38 games and was named rookie of the year in Finland's junior league. He finished second in scoring for fourth-place Finland with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games at the U-18s.
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