The latest in a series on some of the top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at defenseman Ludwig Bystrom, a second round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Last season was a tough one for Bystrom, who played at various levels in Sweden and never seemed to get on track.
“It was quite an experience,” Bystrom said. “It was up and down. It was not my best year. I hoped it would be better, but this season is over and I am just focusing on next season.”
And both Bystrom and the Stars hope he can take some lessons out of last season and gain from the experience moving forward.
“He bounced around two or three teams,” said Jackson. “I think last year might have been the best thing for him because he got some lessons on how to play and how to handle himself.”
Bystrom started the season with MODO of the Swedish Elite League. He played 30 games, registering 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) and a plus-7 rating in limited playing time. Despite averaging about ten minutes per game and only playing in 30 of MODO’s 55 games, Bystrom’s six points were second most among junior defensemen playing in the Swedish Elite League.
Bystrom, a defenseman who handles the puck a lot, admitted he was a little tentative while playing in Sweden’s top league as an 18-year-old.
“The coach told me to play my game, but not make any mistakes,” said Bystrom. “I can’t play my game without making some mistakes. It was a hard year, but I was always learning something. That’s good.”
In early January, MODO loaned Bystrom to Orebro in Sweden’s second highest league in order to get him some more playing time. That didn’t work out well for Bystrom, who played in only nine games.
“They had eight defensemen when I came there, and I didn’t know that,” Bystrom said. “It was a bad loan. I played in just a few games. It didn’t work out well.”
He finished out the season in junior hockey, which presented its own challenges especially in the playoffs.
“That was hard,” Bystrom said. “I had been playing 12 minutes a game and I get back to juniors and I played 30 minutes a game. I was tired after every shift and every period. But it was good to end the season like that.”
The Stars selected Bystrom, who turned 19 last month, in the second round (43rd) overall of the 2012 NHL Draft. They signed him to an entry-level contract just a few weeks after drafting him.
Bystrom is a two-way defenseman. He’s a slick skater who moves the puck well. He’s not overly big at 6-0, 194 pounds, but he doesn’t shy away from physical play. Like any young player, he needs to improve in all areas but play in his own end is a focus.
“I need to improve everything, but most in the defensive zone,” Bystrom said. “I need to work on my play in front of the net and in the corners.”
This coming season he’ll play for Farjestad in Sweden.
“He signed with Farjestad, which is a good team. I think it will be good for him,” said Jackson. “It will be interesting to say how he implements this year with Farjestads. He’s a talented kid.”
The preseason is already underway in Sweden and Bystrom is currently skating with Farjestad’s Elite League squad. Bystrom spent part of the summer with Farjestad and liked what he saw.
“It feels very good,” Bystrom said. “Everything is so professional and stuff. It feels good.”
But he knows that, like last year, ice time won’t come easy at the Swedish Elite League level. He is going to have to earn it.
“They said if I play good I’ll play and if I don’t I won’t play,” he said. “I need to play good.”
Ludwig Bystrom 2012-13 statistics