After selecting Philip Svedeback in the 4th round and Oskar Jellvik in the 5th round at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins returned to the J20 Nationell in Sweden to select Dans Locmelis from Lulea HF in the 4th round, 119th overall.
The Bruins have used the J20 in the past with little success: Axel Andersson in 2018 (traded to Anaheim), Victor Berglund in 2017 (Providence), Oskar Steen in 2016 (may finally get his chance), Emil Johansson in 2014 (playing in Europe) and Linus Arnesson in 2013 (playing in Europe) just to name a few.
Personally, I have some hope for Svedeback and Jellvik. But what about Locmelis?
Born in Latvia but has been playing in Sweden for the past three seasons, Locmelis has represented his native Latvia on the international stage several times including the World Junior Championship U-18 twice and the World Junior Championship U-20 qualifier this past season.
Locmelis had quite the ride during his draft season. He began the year with Lulea HF in the J18 Nationell before making the jump to the J20. At the end of his season in the J20 he got a taste of professional hockey in the SHL.
Having watched a lot of the J20 this season to keep tabs on Jellvik, I had plenty of opportunities to see Locmelis, so here are my thoughts:
Locmelis is a very good skater with excellent agility. His mechanics are good. He uses the full width of the ice in the attacking zone while maintaining possession. He will attack one-on-one using excellent crossovers to surprise defenders. It would be beneficial if he could add to his top end speed.
He is a talented playmaking pivot who controls the ice and the play when the puck is on his stick. When paired with a goal scorer he can form chemistry with, they are dangerous offensively. We saw glimpses of that at the Under-18 and the J20.
Locmelis isn’t and doesn’t project to be a driver of a line, but more the complimentary piece but the playmaking would run through him.
His play through the neutral zone, his own zone and play away from the puck are in need of some work. He will need to put in that work to become a three-zone player and honestly you can say that about many players in his age group. The question then becomes: is the willingness and effort there? I don’t have an answer for you yet but he has shown glimpses of disrupting passing lanes.
Locmelis is scheduled to return to Lulea HF in the J20 next season as he does not have a contract with Lulea in the SHL at this time. He was not selected in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft which would have been a plus in his all-around game development.
Locmelis is also in need of adding some bulk to his lanky frame. Hopefully, the Bruins nutritionist puts him on the proper diet and he follows that regimen.
Locmelis should be a dominant player in the J20 for next season. I look forward to keeping tabs on him and brining you updates as the season progresses.
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