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Lucas Edmonds: From North Bay to Sweden, and, Hopefully, the NHL

One of the top overagers for the 2022 NHL draft, Lucas Edmonds has been everywhere and done everything to put himself on team's radars. The hard work is about to pay off.
Lucas Edmonds

There are just under 4,000 miles between North Bay, Ont., where Lucas Edmonds was born and Umeå, Sweden, where his dad, Randy Edmonds, coached the year Lucas was born.

Depending on stops, upcoming flights can be anywhere from 18 hours to 32 hours, ranging from $1,400 and $1,800.

North Bay isn't a typical home for Swedish folks, either. Sudbury? Maybe. Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are also popular destinations for Swedish Canadians, of whom Statistics Canada says there's around 300,000 of them.

So when the younger Edmonds spots a Swede at a rink, around town, in an elevator, etc., he notices and makes sure to say hello in Swedish -- much to the surprise to his European counterparts.

The son of a Canadian father and a Swedish mother, Lucas Edmonds has seen it all. His dad, a former hockey player himself, coached with a variety of Swedish teams after spending five years there as a player. Randy also had stops in Japan, Germany, Slovenia, and a few trips back home in Canada. Randy also served as Canada's assistant coach at the 2002 World Championship and was a European scout with the Columbus Blue Jackets, too.

So, Randy is all Team Canada. But Lucas? He cheers for both, but has skated with Sweden's junior program a few times. He hasn't played in an official IIHF tournament yet, so he could still represent Canada internationally. But his focus now is more about proving to NHL teams that he was worth the wait.

Edmonds is one of the most highly coveted second-chance prospects – or, in Edmonds' case, fourth – after getting passed over multiple times. After toiling around various Swedish junior leagues over the past few years, he made the jump over to the OHL this year, where he had an OHL-high 79 assists while leading all right-wingers with 113 points. 

The potential was always there. Edmonds was a standout on a Mississauga Rebels team in 2015-16 that had NHL prospects Michael Vukojevic and Philip Tomasino. He eventually was called up to the top Swedish pro league in 2019 with Vaxjo, but didn't end up getting a shift. Still, he kept his name around, and scouts noticed.

Four years after the Kingston Frontenacs drafted Edmonds 131st overall, he finally made the trek back to Ontario to play with the club in what Kingston was hoping would be a lunge towards the Ross Robertson Cup. The Frontenacs didn't make it out of the second round but Edmonds led the team in scoring and finished third league-wide. 

Edmonds' production was partly aided by other teams putting more focus on projected No. 1 pick Shane Wright, but that was part of what made Kingston so dangerous. Edmonds was part of an impressive second line that featured Jordan Frasca and Francesco Arcuri and was one of the toughest set-up men to contain in the league.

"He's a really fun guy to be around in the room," Wright said. "He's super committed, so hard-working, always in the gym, stretching out, making sure he's taking care of his body."

Edmonds grew up a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and specifically Mario Lemieux. An interesting choice, considering he was four when Lemieux played his last NHL game and the league was just coming off of a lockout, but Edmonds credits his dad -- a former pro player himself -- for putting a focus on watching one of the greatest players of all time to try and pick up on some of his traits. 

"He showed me some YouTube videos, some review highlights, and ever since that day, I always want to somewhat model my game after him," Edmonds said about No. 66.

"You can tell it in his work ethic," an NHL scout said when hearing about that. "He's a student of the game, always working to get better. And with his rise this year, you could see why. He's someone with something to prove, and he has proven it."

As a player, Edmonds is a strong playmaker with the ability to create space and opportunities with his patience with the puck in the offensive zone. If he makes the NHL, he could do some spot duty on the power play, but his penalty-kill specialty makes him valuable in the bottom-six. Offensive explosions aren't uncommon for an averaged player, but many scouts saw the talent from a young age but never the results. Could he build upon that if he goes to the AHL next season? Quite possibly.

"He's a late-bloomer, but he's pro-ready," a scout said. "And that makes him more attractive to teams right off the bat. He's less of a guessing game."

There's no shortage of teams interested in Edmonds' services -- almost every team had a chat with him during the NHL draft combine -- and they might not need to wait long for him to be ready to take the next steps towards a pro career, too. Edmonds likely won't get picked until the third or fourth round at earliest, and while the big knock is that he's a late-bloomer and you always expect older players to stand out, it seems like enough teams are finding out that patience might actually pay off here.

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