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Monday, January 17, 2011

Rickard Rakell: A Guy You Should Know

Gabriel Landeskog gets the most attention as the player who will become the highest Swede ever drafted out of the CHL, but countryman Rickard Rakell, who also competes against Landeskog in the OHL with the Plymouth Whalers, should take home honors for being the second-highest.

Rakell has been en fuego since returning to Plymouth from Team Sweden in the WJC, scoring five goals in his last two games and boosting his point totals to nearly a point-per-game after having cooled considerably in November and December.

Rakell has only average size at aout 6-0, 190, but plays an aggressive, abrasive game that should translate nicely at the next level.

When Landeskog went down against Norway in Sweden's first WJC game, Rakell stepped up in a big way, becoming a sort of Landeskog-lite, if you will. He relishes contact, though doesn't have the pure force or power behind his hits to be as noticeable in that aspect of the game as his Kitchener counterpart.

Rakell is a nifty skater with a quick burst, good speed and that shifty elusiveness that you love from your guys who don't have the prototypical size. He's got a quick stick and is clearly fired up for Mike Vellucci and Plymouth after representing his country in what was a terrific start, but ultimately a disappointing flameout against Russia and the U.S.

Rakell deserves a lot of credit for being a player that Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg could count on when he lost a heart-and-soul guy like Gabriel, and for starting now to put his game together in the OHL just in time for NHL scouts to take notice. Rakell is the ideal player you take late in the 1st round or early in the second because he's a guy who projects with some upside to play in the top-six, or at the very least will be a very good high-energy third liner and special teamer.

Here's a nice YouTube vid of Rakell's first OHL goal. You can see his dangerous release on the shot. There's also a nice glimpse of Vince Trocheck of Saginaw in the highlight vid, so keep watching. Trocheck is a B2011DW fave for his gritty game and underrated offense.

Keep an eye on Rakell this winter and spring, as he'll possibly be in Germany to help Team Sweden compete in the Under-18s. That will depend on how far Plymouth gets in the OHL playoffs. If he's still around North America in the spring, scouts will get plenty of eyes on him.

1 comment:

  1. A few looks at Saad who may be somebody your team looks at for the Toronto pick. Would love it if Garth could follow a first pick of Larsson with a second of Rakell. We will see.