Spotlight: William Eklund
Spotlight is a feature highlighting NHL Draft eligibles and giving a peek into what makes them an intriguing prospect ahead of the 2021 NHL Draft. This edition features William Eklund of Djurgardens IF.
Date of Birth: October 12, 2002
Team: Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Top ranked Swedish prospect in 2021
Heading into the draft season, it was probably Simon Edvinsson who was labelled the top Swedish prospect available this year, but Eklund has pulled away from the pack with a monster DY. Eklund is a late-2002 birthday like some of his other Swedish draft-eligible peers (Jesper Wallstedt and Oskar Olausson) and also one of the oldest players available at the upcoming draft.
Missed World Juniors, but hasn’t missed a beat in SHL
Although scouts and fans alike were robbed of seeing Eklund play at the World Juniors because of COVID-19, he hasn’t missed a beat in Sweden this season. Eklund finished with 23 points in 40 games with Djurgardens in the SHL the regular season, which leads all U19 players in the league (including Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond), who were top 10 picks in last year’s draft.
Skillset is tough to match
Eklund is one of the most well-rounded prospects available in 2021, as his offensive instincts are powered by great vision, he makes great decisions with and without the puck, and is reliable in his own end. Eklund’s puck retrievals are also a standout, and make him an effective defensive and shorthanded player. Skating seems to be the only question mark with Eklund, but it shouldn’t hold him back from a successful career in the NHL.
Top rookie in SHL
Eklund’s season wasn’t just notable to scouts. He was named rookie of the year in the SHL after scoring 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 40 games with Djurgarden. His 11 goals led junior-aged players in scoring.
What the experts say
“While he might not be the top prospect in this class, Eklund could very well be the most NHL ready, and his play in the SHL is proving that. The forward has a very well-rounded game, highlighted by his exceptional vision and processing in the offensive zone… I think that Eklund could likely step into the NHL in 2021-22, thanks to his high-end hockey sense. With some adjustments to his stride and tightening up his pass selection, this could be an extremely dynamic, top-six NHLer.” – FCHockey video scout Josh Bell
“Few prospects are as hot at the time of this writing as Eklund, who has been excelling in the SHL just after turning 18. He has taken huge strides forward in his game since last season, which is always a good sign for a prospect’s long-term development. He’s a very skilled, versatile, and reliable player, who has many different elements to his game… Eklund’s SHL success bodes incredibly well for his chances of making the NHL, and if he keeps developing at this pace he could become a very impactful player.” – FCHockey director or video scouting Derek Neumeier
“I have been following Eklund over the past seasons and he never stops surprising me with his development. Two years ago, he was a top player in the U18 – leagues. Last year he turned into a top U20 player in SuperElit. And this season he has already become a high performing player in SHL with the seniors. Eklund has a fantastic way of adapting over what type of game it is… plays a really mature game combined with some really skilled moves that makes him very fun to watch every night.” – FCHockey regional scout Frederik Haak