It’s still spring and his season is barely over, but Detroit Red Wings prospect Liam Dower Nilsson is already mapping out the blueprint for his hockey future.
Step 1 – earn a spot on the Swedish team for the rescheduled World Junior Championship in August.
“I like my chances and won’t discount them,” Dower Nilsson told Henrik Leman of Rakapuckar.com. “I was in Czechia this spring (playing for Sweden’s U20 team) and it went very well, I had a good tournament and was one of the most prominent players there.
“If I get the call to play in the postponed tournament it would be great. If not, I’ll focus on the World Juniors that will play come winter.”
Dower Nilsson Seeking To Turn Pro
Step 2 – Claim a permanent position with Frolunda HC of the SHL for the 2022-23 season.
Only 19, Dower Nilsson’s resume is already showing some playing time with Frolunda’s senior squad. He’s played 15 games with limited ice time and is still seeking his first SHL point. Last season, while playing 10 senior games, he was also good for 19 goals and 50 points in 34 games with Frolunda’s J20 squad.
Currently, Frolunda’s SHL team is only listing 12 returning forwards, so Dower Nilsson sees an opportunity for him to jump into a more significant role. And he’s ready to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Look who was with Liam Dower Nilsson when he was drafted!
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) July 24, 2021
“Whatever spot that is available, I’m taking it, be it left wing, right wing, or center,” said Dower Nilsson, a natural center. “I can play any position.
“I want to be a center when I’m at my best but that is when that is. I’ll have no problems playing on the wing. I’ll have to earn my ice time . . . prove that I deserve it.”
Frolunda is the same team where Red Wings 2021 first-round NHL entry draft pick Simon Edvinsson played last season. Edvinsson and Dower Nilsson are best friends. The 6-foot, 172-pound Dower Nilsson was selected 134th overall in the same draft.
A Natural Born Leader
Dower Nilsson was serving in the captaincy for Sweden at last year’s World U18 Championship. Those leadership qualities were playing a role in Detroit’s decision to draft the young Swede.
“That was a name (Detroit European scouting director) Hakan (Andersson) was pounding the table for,” Red Wings amateur scouting director Kris Draper remembered from draft day. “As we were interviewing a lot of Swedish prospects, we always talk to the prospects. We ask them, ‘On your team, who would you want to take to the NHL to be a teammate?’ The majority of the players on (the Swedish U18) team said Liam Dower Nilsson. That stuck out to us.
“He has good hockey sense, a lot of character, a lot of compete and just seems like another player who loves the game.”
Liam Dower Nilsson, #19, had a 5 point game today in J20 (he was also mistakenly credited with a goal from his younger brother Noah, #33).
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) January 8, 2022
Mark Seidel of the North American Independent Central Scouting Bureau describes Dower Nilsson as a high character player who plays the game responsibly.
“He’s very smart defensively and can shut down the other teams top players,” Seidel said. “Not a ton of offense but he will get the most out of his talent.”
Dower Nilsson doesn’t shy away from taking a leadership role whenever he’s part of a team. “It is who I am,” Dower Nilsson said. “It comes naturally.”
Inspired By Memory Of His Mother
Dower Nilsson and his younger brother Noah were required to mature at a young age. He was only 14 when cancer claimed the life of their mother Bodil. They were raised by their father Per-Anders.
Dower Nilsson acknowledges that he draws inspiration from his mother’s memory. On the ice, he wears a pendant fashioned from his mother’s wedding ring.
“Everything she taught us is still there,” Dower Nilsson told Leman. “She is part of my leadership, who I am as a person.
“She is with me all the time.”
Dower Nilsson Talking With Red Wings
While Dower Nilsson remains an unsigned draft pick, he’s had meetings with the Detroit brass to discuss his future. Patience to allow him time to develop is an opinion both sides currently share.
“I want to be ready,” Dower Nilsson said. “Detroit has the same view. They have time and patience with me. I want to establish myself in the SHL first, play in important situations, before I go over (to North America).”
During the SHL playoffs, he dined with both advisor to the GM Niklas Kronwall and Red Wings VP of hockey operations Nicklas Lidstrom.
“I asked plenty of questions and got a lot of good answers,” Dower Nilsson said. “All I had to do was sit there and listen.”