Nils Lundkvist Scratch: Latest Young Stars Player to Hit Expected Plateau (+)
Being such a young team, the Dallas Stars expect players to sometimes hit a wall. Wyatt Johnston has struggled lately, Matej Blumel was sent down, and now Nils Lundkvist finds himself as a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
Stars defenseman Nils Lundkvist will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season on Monday in St. Louis.
Lundkvist has struggled to put up points, sitting on just one goal and four assists this season.
We seriously can't stop watching this…
Nils Lundkvist walked all over the Panthers for his first goal in a Stars sweater last night 😲🤯@ATT | #TexasHockey pic.twitter.com/LiD8dYWMf3
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) November 18, 2022
After exceeding expectations with his defensive game and averaging over 20 minutes per game early on, Lundkvist has seen his time on ice drop to 16 minutes or below in six of the last seven games and has been removed from the club’s power-play.
“Young defenseman. We’ve moved guys in and out before,” DeBoer said. “We took Mills [Colin Miller] out for a night. Three [games] in four [nights], sometimes it’s good to take a step back and reset.”
But there is more to the Lundkvist scratch than meets the eye.
It is not just a chance to get Joel Hanley in or rest some legs. It is actually another instance of a young Stars player hitting an expected plateau. It isn't the first time, and it will not be the last this season or moving forward as the Stars continue to transition to a younger corps.
We have seen it with 19-year-old Wyatt Johnston (two goals, one assist in last 15 games), it happened with 22-year-old Matej Blumel being sent back to the AHL, and now, Lundkvist.
Read More: Wyatt Johnston Will Need to Match the Intensity of the NHL (+)
“It’s what all young players go through,” DeBoer said. “He’s at the 20-something game mark and it’s okay to reset. He’s got to start to skate again and use some of the things that make him successful.”
Lundkvist is mature beyond his years and perhaps uses the tough experience in New York to remain aware of his play. Rather than making excuses, the 22-year-old is blunt and honest when speaking about his performance.
“For me, I feel like I played pretty solid in the beginning but now it’s been a little bit too much up and down,'' he said following the game against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 11.
“It’s all about being consistent and getting the standard high,'' he said on Nov. 17. “It’s great to create offense but the defense side is as important.”
The key for these young players is to take everything in stride and learn from their experiences.
It is extremely rare to come into the NHL and have immediate, consistent success. Jake Oettinger felt that during a long streak of starts last season and even Jason Robertson struggled in his first few games and was not the player we know until his second or third call-up from the AHL. And we all know how that turned out.
Read More: Jason Robertson Watch: Stars Forward's Record-Setting Point Streak Hits 15 Games
Sitting up in the press box in St. Louis tonight should be very informative for Lundkvist. When watching from above, it is far easier to see how the game breaks down, how much more time you have with the puck, and gain a better understanding of what you can do better to help your team.
That’s why the game looks so easy to the media! F.Y.I, it’s not.
But it is simpler than players sometimes make it and this should be a great learning experience for the Stars defenseman. And don’t be surprised to see Wyatt Johnston listed as a healthy scratch in the near future for the same reason.
So don't freak out Stars fans. This is expected. And it is something we will likely see for years to come in Dallas, as they have some of the best young prospects continuing to inch their way closer to the NHL.
With all the plateaus and adversity of young players, come great rewards…