Liiga Report: Brad Lambert Deep Dive

Josh Glazer

2021-06-28

 

Last month, some under the radar 2021 eligible players were profiled for the monthly Liiga report. In June, we have a 2022 draft eligible with a much larger profile name: Brad Lambert. The flashy forward has represented his native country of Finland at the U17, U18, and U20 levels in the last two years, and still has over a year before he hears his name called near the top of the 2022 NHL Draft. Many in the past have mistaken him for a Canadian who went to Finland to play hockey, but the reality is he was born and raised in Lahti, FIN, and only spent one year in Canada for hockey.

 

 

Statistical Comparison

Before jumping into tape and discussing his abilities, I want to highlight some of the company Brad Lambert has placed himself in with his D-2 and D-1 seasons. In 2019-20 as a player two years out from the draft, Lambert managed 18 goals and 38 points in 42 games for HIFK U20. This 0.9 P/GP pace is the third best all time for a D-2 player behind only Patrik Laine and Anton Lundell (who only played 22 games), a high bar to set as a 16/17-year-old.

 

How did he follow up this season? Playing in the Liiga for the entire season, Lambert finished with seven goals and 15 points in 46 games, a respectable number. While it does not surpass the level of players like Lundell and Barkov, Lambert played on a team that managed 17 wins in 59 games. Let’s compare this to some of the best Finnish NHLers today:

 

 

As we can see, it is possible that the strength of the team hindered his statistical output. Once again, this shows that while it can be useful to look at statistics at times, it is of greater importance to dig deeper to truly understand a player’s ability.

 

 

The On-Ice Product

Having played at three different levels this season (Liiga, U18, U20), Lambert was able to showcase his skill in different ways against different levels of competition, a helpful aspect of international competition. At any level, his skating ability quickly stands out to anyone watching. His pure speed allows him to win puck races even when defenders get significant head starts, and his stride mechanics suggest that he’ll continue to get faster as his legs get stronger:

 

 

In the photo shown above, we have terrific flexion at the ankle with the knee coming well over the toes, and bending in the lower body instead of relying on the upper body. His shin and his back are almost bent at the same angle, which is also ideal. In video, his skating looks like this (#92 in the Liiga and #33 for Finland):

 

 

In the first two clips we see his speed and stride, and the last two clips display his edgework and manipulation, which also impressed me at every level. In both clips, he shifts his weight quickly to change directions, while paying attention to the oncoming defender’s foot positioning. If we watch closely, we notice that Lambert waits until the nearest defender turns his feet parallel to his, and quickly cuts the other way while it is most difficult to keep up with him. This gives him separation and time to make his next play.

 

In the future Lambert will need to use this time and space to create openings in higher danger areas. At times, and predominantly in the Liiga, there is a hesitancy to carry the puck to the slot, settling for chances outside the ‘home plate’ area. Against his own age group at the U18’s, he seemed more comfortable trying to get to that area and take shots – so the next step would be to build the confidence and awareness to do it against better competition. Given that he adjusts to the skill level and tries to do this against lesser competition, it does not strike me as a ‘red flag’ of his, but instead something that he can build up to as he gets more comfortable at that level.

 

 

Another positive in every game was his creation of chances on the rush. In the video above, we see a few things. In the first clip, he drives wide on his own for a beautiful finish (albeit not from the best spot), but it displays his willingness to get behind the defenders, which he followed up on in the last two clips. As F2 in the second clip, he tries to move behind the player covering him, drawing a penalty in the process and showing how hard he can be to defend off the puck. In the third, Lambert does more than just find the typical east-west pass. He creates north-south separation to find a lane more easily, ending up in a pass to the slot and a dangerous scoring chance.

 

 

The most important thing on Lambert’s offseason to-do list should be improving his shot mechanics. As we can see, one way to describe his mechanics would be ‘inconsistent’. It seems like some issues arise on some shots, but not on others. Sometimes, he fails to bring the puck close to his body to generate power, sweeping from side to side instead of pushing down and towards the net. In other instances, it looks like his momentum and weight shift is pushing him in a different direction than his shot. With that being said, he still gets the shot off accurately and the power is decent, but he could get shots off in less time with better mechanics, and add even more power. Developing consistent habits when shooting will not only allow him to score more goals, but force the opposition to respect his shot more.

 

 

Conclusion

Next season has the potential to be massive for Lambert. Not only is he going to be a year older with more pro experience to go along with a bigger frame, but he should get a larger role and his team should be better than it was last year. Understanding that the next step in his development will be to take his confidence found at the junior level and try to use it at the professional level, Lambert has enough skill to adjust to the difference and become a dominant player at the Liiga level. With a few other big names eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft such as Shane Wright and Matthew Savoie, it will surely be a treat to watch the storyline unfold.

 

 

******

 

For more coverage on Finnish hockey and all its prospects, check out Josh Glazer on twitter: @jglazer9

 

 

 

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