Fleet-footed right-handed defenseman who excels defensively. Limited puck skills, but has second-pairing upside in the right hands.
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January 2024 – This season has been one of changes for Willander. Firstly, it marks his debut not only in the NCAA but also in North America. Secondly, he participated in his first World Junior tournament for Sweden. In both of these new experiences, Willander has excelled, accumulating 12 points in 21 games in the NCAA and three points in seven games in the U20. It’s worth noting that, being part of a strong team at Boston University, Willander has not received the most ice time and consequently, hasn’t faced the toughest competition. It will be interesting to see what he can achieve when he becomes the focal point for his team. Cedrick Blais-Turcotte
June 2023 – Willander has been selected 11th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2023 NHL Draft. Curtis Rines
April 2023 – Willander has gone a bit under the radar due to the plethora of more flashy defencemen in this year’s draft, but with a solid U18s, he could very well propulse himself into first-round discussions. Fleet-footed and rangy, Willander can skate circles around opponents to find a lane to exploit. He is reliable on the breakout, and solid defensively — both off the rush and in his own zone. His puck skills aren’t anything to write home about, but he gets shots on net and opens up the ice laterally for his teammates with the occasional change of sides.
While far from an offensive powerhouse, Willander is a very safe pick with room to add more to his game — namely on retrievals, where his lack of scanning can hold him back from making smart plays. Expect a second-round snag at worst for the 6-foot-1, right-handed defenseman. Hadi Kalakeche
April 2023 – Defense is Willander’s best asset, but success on the power play helped him become Rögle’s highest-scoring defenseman in the J20 Nationell this season. He reads the rush well, rarely gets caught out of position, and knows how to utilize his reach. He isn’t a particularly flashy player but he can effectively support or lead in every zone. Offensive play is not Willander’s strength, but he contributes by locating and reaching pass options and creating space. The U18s will be a great environment for Willander to demonstrate his reliable capabilities on a larger stage. Alexa Potack