“People can believe what they want”

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Nils Lundkvist demanded a move from the New York Rangers.
Now the super talent hits back at the criticism.
– People can believe what they want. I’m not a diva, he tells NSD.

Nils Lundkvist has been the big talk of the New York Rangers in recent weeks. The Swede was selected in the first round of the draft a few years ago, and there have been high expectations for the offensively skilled defender. But he has had difficulty reaching his full potential in the Rangers, where he also had to compete for starting time with one of the league’s best players in Adam Fox, who last year averaged almost a point per game.

Hitting back at criticism

But in the end Lundkvist got tired of the sparing playing time, and he has been clear during the summer that he wants to get a three. He announced, via his agent, that he did not plan to turn up for Rangers’ training camp, as he did not want to remain at the club. It is unusual for a young player to make such a tough demand, and of course it has led to discussions in both the Rangers and the NHL.

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New York Rangers defenseman Nils Lundkvist (27) carries the puck in front of Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Gabriel Fortier (82) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Last night, Swedish time, the news came that the Rangers reached an agreement with the Dallas Stars on a trade deal, where Lundkvist leaves the Rangers, who get a draft pick for the Swede. Lundkvist got what he wanted, but he has not escaped criticism. In North America, the super talent has been called a diva by supporters who said that he makes far too high demands.

– That’s not how I want to appear. People can of course believe what they want. But those who know me know that I am not like that, says Lundkvist to Norrländska Socialdemokraten.

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“Couldn’t see a way forward”

Lundkvist believes that he saw no choice but to make a move for the sake of his own development. The competition in the Rangers is deadly tough, and in Dallas there is now a real gap to fill after the Swedish star John Klingberg left during the summer.

– I understand that you have to fight your way up, but I couldn’t really see a way forward for me. So a trip felt like the best solution, says Lundkvist.

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210523 Nils Lundkvist of Sweden looks dejected after the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship game between Sweden and Belarus on May 23, 2021 in Latvia. Photo: Simon Hastegård / BILDBYRÅN / code SH / SH0111

And now Lundkvist can breathe a sigh of relief. Being traded in the NHL is an intense process, and he admits it has taken its toll. Now, however, he is looking forward to a new season, hopefully with significantly greater confidence and ice time.

– There hasn’t been much sleep for me and now I’m busy making arrangements to get over there. But I’m glad everything worked out. I know I will have to perform to get a Dallas Stars jersey, but they seem to have a lot of faith in me, he says.

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