Canucks 11th-Overall Draft Pick
Tom Willander is an outstanding athlete, a converted forward turned defenceman, who brings size and competitiveness to the right side of a D-corps. Given the franchise’s nagging needs over the last few years, the big Swede seems like the perfect eventual fit.
“Obviously his position, a right-shot defenceman, his mobility, his ability to skate, defend, compete, just a natural athlete,” Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin said of his countryman after Round-1. “He actually played forward up until two years ago, so he has the ability to be producing and be involved in the offensive game. What I do like is his commitment and how he competes and how he’s able to play against top players.”
“This is something I’ve been working towards my whole life,” Willander said after being selected. “I feel like this marks a new chapter in my life, so I’m just super happy and excited to get started.”
The new chapter will begin in Massachusetts next fall at Boston University, a development and educational opportunity Willander decided upon, foregoing a chance to play in Sweden’s top Swedish Hockey League.
“I think it speaks highly about him, his character, his IQ, and his understanding of, it’s not a sprint to get to the National Hockey League, and it’s not a marathon for him maybe, but it’s part of development,” Allvin said.
Willander actually picked up two games with Rogle BK Angelholm in the SHL this past season. A bonus while scoring 25 points in 39 games with the same club’s junior team.
The Elite Prospects description of Willander included this ditty:
“When you add the fact that he’s both strong and skilled physically and relentlessly competes for every puck – he’s a nightmare to play against. Even if you start or manage to gain an advantage, Willander has the quickness to recover most of the time.“
Willander brings his skills to a Canucks team he started cheering for as a small child.
“Mainly because of the Sedins obviously,” Willander said, “the most dominant pair of players ever, but I also thought the logo was cool. So I got a bit nostalgic seeing it up on the stage. It was a lot of fun.”