The quest for left-shot defensemen continues as the 2022 NHL Entry Draft nears. While Rob Blake won’t set out to acquire said player at all costs, the fact remains it is the most needed position to fill with quality prospects available.
Last year, we predicted the Kings would take Simon Edvinsson at No. 8 in the draft. He ended up going to Detroit at No. 6, which gave the Kings the easy option to choose Brandt Clarke. While Edvinsson may not have found his way on the west coast, there are some superficial parallels between him and the next option.
Date of Birth: May 18, 2004
Weight: 225 lbs
Bichsel spent most of the season playing for Leksands IF in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He had 3 points (1 G, 2 A) in 29 games.
Of the International Cs
The Swiss-born player has participated in international hockey for the past three seasons, including this year’s rescheduled U-20 WJC. In two of these tournaments, Bichsel wore the C.
Far From Home
As mentioned, Bichsel was born and raised in Switzerland. However, he moved to play in Sweden’s top league as a rookie this year.
This season, Bichsel and Leksands competed in Europe’s premier hockey league, the Champions Hockey League. In 8 appearances, the young blueliner tallied a goal while picking up 29 penalty minutes.
Rankings by Independent Scouting Services
Ranked No 15 by Corey Pronman from The Athletic. “Bichsel’s physical tools are quite evident. He’s a 6-foot-5 defenseman who skates well for his size, is physical and has some offensive touch. He can carry and create through the neutral zone due to his feet and skills and shows some creativity from the offensive blue line. He has good hands but there isn’t much playmaking or poise in his puck play. Defensively he’s quite good due to his reach, feet and physicality. He closes gaps like a pro and can be trusted to play hard minutes as he advances levels. Bichsel projects as a top-four defenseman with the potential to play higher in a lineup if the offense translates.”
Ranked No. 32 by The Hockey Writers in May. In a Separate Article, they wrote, “Yet Bichsel has been a big part of Leksands IF’s blueline, and it was never more evident in the Champions Hockey League tournament. He appeared in all but two of their games and recorded one goal, nine blocked shots, three hits, six shots on goal, and averaged 7:24 minutes of ice time. He also averaged a 59.62 Corsi For percentage, which shows the team controlled the puck more when he was on the ice. Given that he started his shifts mainly in the defensive end, that’s an impressive stat, especially for a teenager.”
Ranked No. 30 by Sportsnet in their April Rankings. “A smooth skater who can process the game effectively. The offensive side continues to improve, but he projects more as the complementary type of blue liner.”
See For Yourself
Here is a shift by shift video of Lian Bichsel.
As mentioned, there are a few shallow parallels between the Swiss-born blueliner compared to Simon Edvinsson, who likely was on the Kings radar last year: He’s a large, left-shooting defenseman who has spent his life up until the draft playing in Europe. From here, the two start to differ. Bichsel is more of a defensive stalwart, as opposed to his more offensive contemporary.
What stands out the most with Bichsel is his combination of size and skating ability. He covers a lot of ice, between his mobility and reach. Moreover, he’s not afraid to get engaged physically with the opposition. Pairing him with someone who has more offensive aptitude, like Spence, Durzi, or Clarke would give his partner a lot more free reign.
There are some valid concerns with spending a high pick on a player like the bulky blueliner. His offensive numbers aren’t there yet, and there are valid questions if they ever will be. As the Kings didn’t get much offense from their blueline last year, this pick would only check a few boxes.
Should the Kings pick Bichsel, they currently have three options: leave him in Europe, play him in the AHL, or play him in the NHL. Currently, no CHL team owns his rights; though the CHL Import Draft is on July 1; so the team drafting him may have an additional option going into next season. Given the depth in the professional ranks, Rob Blake and company would likely benefit from leaving him to play in Europe. If he was drafted in the Import Draft and assigned to junior hockey, a few alternatives would be lost for a couple years. If left in the SHL, the already big kid could adapt his game further by playing in one of the top leagues in the world and building his minutes.
— The Armchair Scout (@Davidenkness) June 5, 2022
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