Red Wings of Tomorrow is assessing every prospect in the Detroit Red Wings system and what they are projecting to be in the future. We’ll be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of their game, as well as what the future holds for them as they advance through the Detroit organization. Today, we feature center Liam Dower Nilsson
Liam Dower Nilsson
How Acquired: Selected 134th overall, 2021 NHL entry draft
2021-22 Stats: (GP-G-A-P): 10-0-0-0 (with Frolunda); 34-19-31-50 (with Vastra Frolunda Jr)
Contract Status: Unsigned
Anticipated 2022-23 Team: Frolunda
Dower Nilsson was the prospect where the Red Wings’ Hakan Andersson “pounded the table” for Detroit to use its fifth-round selection on. So far, he’s been nothing short of impressive and had a phenonmenal season in the Swedish junior league.
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
In his brief 10-game appearance with the big club, he was held scoreless. The expectation is that the 19-year-old will stick with the senior club all season and there’s no reason to think he won’t.
Prior to his drafting, draft analysts projected Dower Nillson as a strong two-way forward (Tony Ferrari) and also raved about his impact in a locker room. Best friends with fellow Red Wings prospect Simon Edvinsson, Dower Nillson may not project out to be the big time scorer like Lucas Raymond. But the intangibles and high hockey IQ (evidenced above in the clips) certainly make a lot of sense for the Red Wings team general manager Steve Yzerman is building.
“Another high character kid. The coaches raved about him,” said Mark Seidel, of the North American Independent Central Scouting Service. “Very smart defensively and can shut down the other teams top players. Like (fellow Red Wings prospect Red) Savage, not a ton of offense but he will get the most out of his talent.”
Estimated Time of Arrival in Detroit
Dower Nilsson just turned 19 in April but is already one of Detroit’s best forward prospects. DHN pegged him as the Red Wings’ seventh best forward prospect, and a full year of experience in the SHL should only improve the profile of the young center.
Though prospect analysts may differ in exactly where Dower Nilsson will pencil in, it’s a case of watching players like Elmer Soderblom who had a terrific season with Frolunda and is now one of the rising players in Detroit’s system. Dower Nilsson could very well be a similar case where a full season in the SHL could prepare him for North American ice the following season.
While they’re different players, Soderblom spent two seasons and 80 games playing in the SHL. A full season of 52 games and along with the 15 he’s already played in the SHL should make Dower Nilsson a good candidate to be signed to an entry-level deal and end up in Grand Rapids. That of course is contingent on Dower Nilsson seeing the same success with the senior club.
If the upward trajectory continues, it seems likely that Dower Nilsson could be in Grand Rapids for the 2023-24 season. As for the Red Wings, a 2024-25 appearance on the opening night roster seems realistic.