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2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: William Eklund is a complete forward

This Swede kicks off our prospect series

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2021 NHL Draft Lottery Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

We are less than a month away from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (July 23-24), so it’s time to start researching the prospects likely to be selected in the first round. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently hold three picks in that round: #5, #24, and #30 or #31.

William Eklund

Position: Left wing/center
Team: Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Date of Birth: October 12, 2002
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 176
Shoots: Left


Ranked #3 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #6 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #3 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #1 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (EU Skaters)
Ranked #7 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #7 by TSN/McKenzie

2020-21 Stats

Games Played: 40
Goals: 11
Assists: 12
Points: 23
PIM: 2

Entering this year’s draft, the biggest needs for the Blue Jackets are at center and defense, but given the state of the prospect pipeline, the most important task in the first round is to get the best players available regardless of position. As a consensus top 10 pick, Eklund seems like a perfect player to pick at #5.

Eklund feels like the ideal Blue Jacket forward as well: he plays a 200 foot game, with high effort and hockey IQ compensating for being slightly undersized. His skating has drawn praise and he seems as adept at setting up his teammates as he is at scoring himself.

Scouting Reports

Deceptive and effective puck handler who moves through all three zones with good speed; Can evade defenders with good edgework and skill to map out passing and shooting lanes several steps ahead; Breaks out the puck with ease and is often a takeaway threat for opposing defenders; Good shooter who can expose small openings. - Eric D., On the Forecheck

Eklund skates fast, but it’s his skating plus his compete that earned the trust of big minutes as he showed he could be responsible off the puck. He combines that with a high skill level, a very imaginative hockey IQ offensively and the ability to execute difficult plays at speed. His ability to play in the high-traffic areas and win battles, but also play on the perimeter and be a primary set-up guy, will make him a versatile NHL player. In a sentence, Eklund projects as an undersized first-line NHL winger with dynamic attributes. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

Eklund’s biggest strength, though, is the way he navigates on the ice. He slides in and out of space to get open for his shot (a shot which has improved to make him a real mid-range threat) and play the give-and-go game effectively. He makes a lot of small-area plays around the net to attack the slot or play a puck into it, with proper timing, for a teammate. He’s just a crafty problem-solver who knows his game and how to play within himself to make something happen from shift-to-shift. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Eklund endured some road blocks this season: He missed the World Junior Championship with a false positive COVID test, and when he returned to Sweden, his appendix burst. “He had a tough year,” the scout in Sweden said. “But the games he played in the beginning and the end, they were really good.”

The scout continued: “He surprised everyone a little bit. He was good last year, but he kind of exploded this year. He holds onto the puck so good, he protects it really well. He plays a mature game. He’s not one of those junior guys that comes up and skates all over the place. There’s a meaning in everything he does. I think he can be trusted, and that’s why he’s playing so many minutes for them. He was part of a good line too, and of course that helps, but he also scored a lot.” - Emily Kaplan, ESPN