High-scoring Swedish players draw attention in Plymouth as possible Red Wings draft picks
Plymouth — A Swedish duo of high-scoring forwards at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth are on a historic path that could lead them to be selected by a lottery-bound team like the Red Wings in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond are among the top high-end prospects behind consensus No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic.
Holtz, 17, is a 6-1, 183-pound winger who was the youngest player to lead Sweden's SuperElit League in goal scoring with 30 goals in 38 games with Djurgardens last year.
Raymond, 17, is a 5-10, 178-pound winger who finished fourth overall in scoring with Frolunda in the Elit and Allsvenskan leagues with 63 points in 33 games.
They are trying to become the first pair of Swedes to be taken in the first three picks since Daniel Sedin (second overall) and Henrik Sedin (third overall) were selected by the Vancouver Canucks in 1999.
Only two Swedes, Mats Sundin (Quebec, 1989) and Rasmus Dahlin (Buffalo, 2018), have been taken No. 1 overall.
Holtz said he hasn't given up on having his name called first at the draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal on June 26-27, 2020.
"Who wouldn't want to go first overall?" Holtz said. "Of course."
Raymond said he's trying not to think about the draft.
"It's tough with all the media," Raymond said. "I'm just trying to focus on playing my best hockey."
Sweden U20 coach Tomas Monten isn't too concerned about the extra media attention on linemates Holtz and Raymond, who helped lead Sweden to its first world under-18 gold medal last year.
"We went through the hype two years ago with Dahlin," Monten said. "As long as they play at home in Sweden, they'll be a bit off the radar. It's going to be a little calmer than what Jack Hughes had last year.
"We've talked to them about what to expect but still they have to go through it. It's better to start now, to send them to you guys before all the attention comes at the world juniors, the U18s or just before the draft."
Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said it's been "fun to watch" the progress of Holtz and Raymond.
"They're both fantastic players," Martin said. "I'm really impressed with their two-way game. I saw Raymond throw a big bodycheck on (6-foot-6 defenseman) Mattias Samuelsson in the first game and Mattias is no small guy himself.
"They're similar in their abilities to create offense and to push the pace. They both show maturity in their detail to check without the puck."
After Wednesday's 6-0 loss against the U.S., they are scoreless in three games with Holtz leading the team with 10 shots and Raymond second with eight shots.
"I like to score goals," Holtz said. "That's what I do best. I like to use my offensive skills. That's my game, to try and help my team to win games."
"Alex has an amazing shot," Raymond said. "He also has great vision, great hands. If you get into open ice, he'll get you the puck."
Raymond said he isn't concerned which player is drafted ahead of the other.
"No competition there, not really," Raymond said.
"I'm just looking forward to playing against men this year with the size, the speed, the structure. It's a lot different than junior hockey. It develops you as a player."
World Junior Summer Showcase
All games at USA Hockey Arena, Plymouth
Saturday: Finland 3, USA White 2
Saturday: USA Blue 4, Sweden 2
Sunday: USA Blue 7, Finland 1
Sunday: Sweden 2, USA White 1 (OT)
Tuesday: Canada 4, USA 1
x-Wednesday: Finland 8, Canada 3
x-Wednesday: USA vs. Sweden (4 p.m.)
x-Friday: Canada vs. Sweden (1 p.m.)
x-Friday: USA vs. Finland (4 p.m.)
x-Saturday, Aug. 3: Sweden vs. Finland (1 p.m.)
x-Saturday, Aug. 3: Canada vs. USA (4 p.m.)
x-Game on NHL Network