Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2022 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Lian Bichsel Scouting Report.
Swiss defenceman Lian Bichsel came up in the Biel-Bienne system. However, he spent his draft season in Sweden as he looked to improve his draft stock. He joined the Leksands IF system. Bichsel played 11 games with the Leksands J20 team, scoring three goals and four assists for seven points. He was then called up to the SHL squad, spending most of the season playing against men. In 29 games, Bichsel scored one goal and two assists for three points. He also played in eight games in the Champions Hockey League, scoring one goal.
Bichsel was also a key member of the Swiss National Team program. He was the captain of the country’s Under-18 team. In four games at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup he picked up one assist. He was also a member of the World Junior Team and played one game before the tournament was shut down due to a COVID outbreak.
Bichsel also played in the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championships as an underage player. He scored one goal and one assist for two points in five tournament games. Bichsel was named a top-three player on the team.
Lian Bichsel Scouting Report
Left Defence — shoots Left
Born May 18th, 2004 — Olten, Switzerland
Height 6’5.5″ — Weight 225 lbs [198 cm / 102 kg]
Bichsel’s skating is good for his size but there are still some areas that he can work on. His straight-line speed is above average in both directions. While he is not a speedster, he is more than able to keep up with the play. With a good first step and decent acceleration, his skating isn’t a liability. However, he does not have great recovery speed if he pinches up the ice or gets caught out of position. His lateral mobility is decent, but he needs to work on quick changes in direction. He also will need to continue to work on his pivots. Bischel struggles at times in transitioning from offence to defence and vice-versa. Bischel is strong on his skates and it is hard to knock him off the puck. He wins battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Bischel’s offensive abilities are based on his shot. He has a strong and powerful slap shot. Bischel is able to move well laterally in order to open up shooting lanes. He also does a good job of keeping his shot low and getting it on the net. This allows his teammates to get in front of the net for screens, deflections and to pounce on rebounds. Bischel is very good with his one-timer. He can adjust his feet and hands to get his shot off even if the pass isn’t perfect. Bischel also has a powerful wrist shot. He can vary his attacks by sneaking down to the face-off circles and letting the shot go from there.
Bischel’s offence is still a bit limited though. He could stand to improve his stickhandling and puck poise. He is better off making a quick pass to a teammate to start the transition game rather than carrying the puck up the ice. His issues in changing directions often means he skates himself into areas where he is trapped by multiple defenders instead of finding open ice. His passing skills are also a bit limited. He can make a decent pass to the open man, but when trying to put the puck through a tight passing lane he can be prone to turnovers. This means that it is unlikely he will be a big contributor on the power play.
Bichsel makes good use of his size and it helps him to play a strong defensive game. His good backwards skating and lateral movement help him to maintain good gap control. His size and long reach mean that it is hard to get by him by going wide. If an attacker tries to, they have to be wary as he can explode into a hit. With his long stick, he is also able to effectively cut down passing lanes. Bichsel uses his size to win battles in the corners and clear the front of the net as well. His size and strength really stand out when he plays against his age group. As he continues to mature and adds even more strength, he can become a dominant physical force in the professional game.
Projection and Comparison
With his size, physical play, and defensive ability, Bichsel is an intriguing prospect for the NHL Draft. He will probably be drafted higher than we have him ranked. However, the lack of offensive ability is going to limit him to the next level. He could develop into a second-pair defenceman if he can add more offence but its not clear if this will happen. Expect him to spend a couple of seasons in Europe or the AHL before he is NHL-ready. He should not be rushed as the offence is unlikely to develop if he has to focus on defending NHL players. Bichsel’s game is reminiscent of Joel Edmundson. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Lian Bichsel that are available on youtube and Twitter.
Getting some eyes on towering, Swiss-born defender Lian Bichsel today and good lord pic.twitter.com/PnzFPyVCbh
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) December 12, 2021
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) April 29, 2021
Swiss defender Lian Bichsel (20 White, RD) just going for a casual skate in the SHL. I love what the defender brings to the ice. Solid in his own end, physical, and never quits. A little flash of flair in his game doesn't hurt either.@FCHockey | #2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/yRLTvGeZw0
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) January 11, 2022
— Champions Hockey League (@championshockey) December 7, 2021
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) April 27, 2021
— Marek Novotny (@MarekNovotny96) February 22, 2022
Check back later for our next article on the 2022 NHL Draft.
Lian Bichsel Scouting Report Main Photo:
Swiss defenseman Lian Bichsel was teammates with Isak Rosen at Leksands IF and enjoys watching Rasmus Dahlin.
Met with all 32 teams. Ranked the No. 9 European skater. Listed at 6-foot-5, 216 pounds. pic.twitter.com/b6qCdEjXmV
— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) June 4, 2022