The Pipeline: A conversation with Brad Lambert
Brad Lambert has been a highly touted prospect ever since he was a youth player in Finland, and for some time was considered a potential challenger to Shane Wright as the projected No. 1 in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Lambert comes from a hockey pedigree where his father, Ross Lambert, was a professional hockey player that played most of his career in England, and his uncle, Lane Lambert played in the NHL back in the 80s.
So needless to say hockey is in his blood.
Lambert, No. 8 in FCHockey’s Winter ranking for the 2022 draft, could possibly end up higher with a strong finish to a bit of an inconsistent season.
“I consider myself pretty fast and skilled, and that’s the way I like to play,” Lambert told Guy Flaming of The Pipeline Show. “I’ve always looked up to guys like (Patrick) Kane, (Connor) McDavid, (Mathew) Barzal and kinda tried to go out there and do stuff that they do.”
Lambert has looked good playing for Finland at the international stage, putting up impressive numbers as well.
Last year he played at both the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, posting five assists in five games, and the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, posting four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games. He looked really good at both tournaments and was a standout on both Finnish teams.
Offensively, Lambert has taken a step back this season while playing for JYP in Liiga — the top Finnish men’s league — posting only five points (two goals, three assists) in 21 games. Compare that to his 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 46 games last season, there seems to be some struggles.
But Lambert is not deterred.
Guy Flaming: You had 15 points in 46 games last year with this team, this year five points in 19 games (at the time of the recording). I know, a lot of people were making a lot about it was a slow start statistically for you this year. Any reason for that you think, or was that maybe getting overblown in your opinion?
Brad Lambert: Yeah, I mean, I think I’m playing good, I’m getting the chances and just not able to score on my chances. Not getting a lot of puck luck and stuff. But I’ve been trying to shoot more and get into the middle more. Get a little more aggressive, and try to get more chances that way and maybe they’ll start going in.
Guy Flaming: Injury along the way?
Brad Lambert: Yeah, I had two injuries and then I was sick once, so I’ve been in and out (of the lineup).
Guy Flaming: Now that you’ve had a year under your belt at the pro level and had four games in the Liiga a couple of years ago, do you feel a little more comfortable at that level? Are you taking on a bigger role do you think or because you’re still a young guy, I mean let’s be honest, sometimes the young guys playing pros overseas don’t get a lot of ice time and things. What’s the situation like for you?
Brad Lambert: Yeah, I mean I think it’s definitely helped to have a year under your belt. I think I’m getting more comfortable and I’m starting to do more stuff and do stuff that I did in junior a couple years ago. So, yeah I think it definitely helped having those 46 games last year and obviously not the start we’ve wanted as a team or I’ve wanted for myself for the season. But I think that we can get it going here if we get a little bit of puck luck and start scoring.
Guy Flaming: When did you first start getting the feeling that hockey could be something that you could take pretty seriously, it’s not just for enjoyment, for fun or physical activity, but this could be something that you could do for a long time?
Brad Lambert: I probably can’t even answer that, I mean I guess I just always thought that this is what I love to do and this is what I wanna do for a living. Since I can remember my goal was to play in the NHL someday. So, yeah I really couldn’t answer that.
Guy Lambert: I have to ask you about the situation with the Saskatoon Blades. They drafted you this year and I wonder if that was ever something you would consider when they first drafted you and even now. Is the Saskatoon Blades situation something that interests you?
Brad Lambert: Yeah, I mean the last time we talked to them was this summer and after that I haven’t really thought about it. I made the decision to play here and concentrate on playing here, and helping the team here. So, I haven’t really thought about it after that.
Guy Flaming: The World Juniors is on the horizon here. How excited are you to get a chance to play in that tournament again? You did it here last year in Edmonton, but now at least there will be fans in the building.
Brad Lambert: Yeah, I mean right now I’m just concentrating on trying to make that team and you know if I’m lucky enough to go it will be unbelievable. Last year we had a great team there and a great atmosphere, even though there were no fans, and this year I think there’s fans allowed to come, so it will be that much better. It would be an honour to go and it would be a great tournament.
Guy Flaming: Having been on the team and in the tournament last year, do you feel you take on a bit more of a leadership role this time around?
Brad Lambert: Yeah, I mean for sure. If I get to go then I’d definitely try to be a leader and try to do everything the same way and lead by example. I’m not exactly the loudest guy in the dressing room, but just try to lead by example and maybe have a bit of a bigger role on the ice too.
Guy Flaming: The sheet I’m looking at Brad, says six feet and 179 pounds. I don’t know how up to date that is, so what are you at right now?
Brad Lambert: I think I’m about six-foot-one now and 178 pounds.
Guy Flaming: Being a really offensive guy, but when you look at the statistical numbers, they’re not really there and people have to understand that you’re basically a kid playing with a bunch of men and that can be challenging. The numbers don’t automatically appear like that. Is that hard for you from a mental state, knowing that you are this offensive guy, but the stats aren’t necessarily suggesting that?
Brad Lambert: Yeah, obviously this year has been tough in terms of the stats. Like I said earlier I haven’t had a lot of puck luck, but I think I’m getting the chances and I think that eventually when they start going in, they’ll start going in a lot more and maybe get a few breaks and bounces and all of a sudden you can get like a three, four point game or something and then they just start coming. So, it’s been a hard start to the year not scoring the way I’d like to but you can’t worry about it too much, as long as you’re getting chances.
Guy Lambert: Your skillset, we talked about your speed and your abilities, are there areas in your game you think you need to work on and focus on the most before you take that next step, maybe to North American pro hockey?
Brad Lambert: Yeah, obviously I think I need to work on everything and never stop improving. If you’re asking about the biggest things I need to work on, I’d say those were my strength, just getting stronger and more physical. And then just maybe on the offensive side, just trying to get into the middle more, trying to attack the centre of the ice and getting more shots from the middle. And without the puck maybe going to the net a little more.
Guy Flaming: Now, how much is the NHL draft on your mind? When I talk to players about it, other guys who are draft eligible, there’ll be a number of them that say they don’t want to think about the draft at all because maybe that could be a distraction of some sort. There are other guys who tell me they actively look to see where Central Scouting has them ranked, or TSN, or Sportsnet, or whoever out there, all the rankings and they use that as motivation. What about for you, Brad?
Brad Lambert: Yeah, I mean I don’t like to look at the rankings and you can go up and down so quick. But I definitely use the draft as fuel. I mean it’s my draft year and obviously and I know that and I think it helps motivate you for every game and every practice just a little bit more. So, yeah I definitely don’t really like to think about it too much and kinda try to treat it as just another year. But the extra motivation you can get from it I think is good.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.