Getting to know NY Islanders unsigned prospect Alexander Ljungkrantz

The NY Islanders have until June 1st to sign Alexander Ljungkrantz or lose his rights. We spoke with Chapin Landvogt, the Central European scout and writer for McKeen's hockey to learn more about the player.

Alexander Ljungkrantz - Lån från Almtuna IS | Intervju | Färjestad BK - MoDo Hockey | 2023-12-19
Alexander Ljungkrantz - Lån från Almtuna IS | Intervju | Färjestad BK - MoDo Hockey | 2023-12-19 / shadyjam
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There's no question that the NY Islanders prospect pool is bleak, without a first-round pick for the last four years. The prospects the Islanders currently have under contract are no guarantees, teetering on the fence of being NHL caliber.

One prospect whom the Islanders own the rights to had a break-out season this year while playing in Sweden in Alexander Ljungkrantz. The third-round pick of the Islanders in 2020 scored a career-high 20 goals in 40 games, adding 12 assists while spending most of the season with Almtuna IS of the HockeyAllsvenskan (second tier of Swedish hockey).

Ljungkrantz has been an unknown prospect in the Islanders' prospect pool and was a questionable pick when Lou Lamoriello selected him 90th overall, despite being ranked as a late-round pick.

Ljungkrantz was the Islanders first pick in 2020 draft, selected 90th overall

As we get closer to June 1st, the Islanders have a decision to make regarding Ljunktantz. Being that it's four years since he was drafted, Lamoriello and company only have a few days to decide if he'll be part of the organization's future plans. The Islanders have until the beginning of the month to sign the Swedish winger or they'll lose his rights for good. With so few quality prospects within the system, it would be assumed the Islanders would do all they could to retain their draft picks.

To learn more about Ljungkrantz, we spoke with Chapin Landvogt, the Central European scout and writer for McKeen's Hockey.

Ljungkrantz led Almtuna in goals this season with 20, eight of those coming on the man-advantage. As a left-handed shot, he became comfortable perched on the right side of the ice, shooting from an inside angle.

"It was astounding how potent he was as a lefty shot on Almtuna’s power play, where he scored a number of his 20 goals this season from the right face-off circle," Landvogt said. "Be it via powerful one-timers or well-placed wrist and snap shots, Ljungkrantz was often able to handily get pucks past opposition goaltenders."

The Islanders have a handful of prospects who lit up the scoreboard outside the NHL and AHL, including William Dufour and Matthew Maggio, putting up eye-popping numbers in their respective junior leagues. In these lower leagues, having a strong shot alone allows you to rake in the goals, but at the top level, much more is needed to create opportunities for yourself and your teammates, with skating being near the top of the list.

"In general, Ljungkrantz’s development has seen his skating become more well-rounded and even elegant at times," said Landvogt. "He moves with a lot of steam as a hustler featuring strong lateral movement to hop around opponents. "

The NHL and AHL are much more physical leagues than those in Europe. Former Islander Shane Prince told Arthur Staple of The Athletic that this is one of the reasons he believes Maxim Tsyplakokv will succeed in the NHL, as there aren't many power forwards or players willing to get to the dirty areas in Europe. According to Landvogt, this style of play suits Ljungkrantz.

"He’ll play in traffic and go where it hurts," explains Landvogt. "This season certainly gave reason to believe that a couple of years in the AHL might just be what the doctor ordered for his development, especially with a coaching staff eager and ready to mold him into an opportunistic puck-hound in a lower-line role emphasizing a hard forecheck."

Ljungkrantz is coming off his best season as a pro

Towards the end of the Swedish regular season, things became a bit odd surrounding Ljungkrantz. It was revealed that Ljungkrantz signed a contract to play with Färjestad of the SHL for the 2024-25 season. He was called on loan to Färjestad twice during the season, with the second being as Almtuna prepared for their best-of-three playoff series.

In the first game of this loan spell, Ljungkrantz played 10:54 and recorded five shots on goal. He was subsequently benched the next two games, and then in his final two games, he played only 54 seconds and 7:29, respectively, failing to record a single shot. When his loan was over, Almtuna was eliminated from the playoffs, robbing Ljungkrantz of any postseason play.

After this past season, it appears Ljungktantz is ready to become an everyday player at Färjestad. The SHL is a much more challenging league, but Ljungkrantz and the Islanders must have some reservations following his loan spells.

"Naturally, a regular shift in the SHL next season would still be a fairly optimal step in his career projection," says Landvogt. "But if this past season was any indication, Ljungkrantz and the Islanders organization have got to wonder if a regular shift is in the cards with Färjestad."

There's no saying whether the NHL is in the cards for Ljunkrantz, but it's assumed Lamoriello will do all he can to get the 22-year-old under contract before the June 1st deadline.