CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – The transition to the NHL is never an easy one.
That being said, Paul Maurice believes Anton Lundell is off to a great start.
“He’s an exceptionally bright young man,” the Florida Panthers head coach said. “I’m very excited about where he can get to. He’s a good pro. The hardest thing sometimes with these young guys is turning them pro, which is all the things that go into being a great hockey player.”
Bursting onto the scene in 2021-22, Lundell, the 12th overall pick in 2020, not only lived up to his first-round billing, but exceeded it. Finishing sixth in voting for the Calder Trophy, the 20-year-old registered 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) assists in 65 games while centering Florida’s third line.
In addition to finishing with the fourth-most points by a Panthers rookie in a single season, his 12 multi-point games were tied with Jesse Belanger for the most by a rookie in franchise history.
“There’s a lot to learn when you’re new to the NHL,” Maurice said. “Having a year of experience is really going to be a benefit for him, and we’re going to really enjoy watching him grow.”
Following the opening day of training camp at the Panthers IceDen on Thursday, I had a chance to catch up with Lundell and talk about his continued growth, offseason regime, cellys and more.
Continue reading below to check out that conversation.
OLIVE: That first practice looked more intense than usual. How are you feeling?
LUNDELL: I feel good. That was a good practice. It was fun to get things started. You all saw that it was a pretty hard workout and a lot of training today, but I like it. That’s good. It’s going to help us get ready for the season, for sure.
OLIVE: How different does training camp feel compared to last season?
LUNDELL: It’s a lot different. I’ve been here one year and already know a lot of the guys here. We’ve got a pretty similar group to last year. It’s so fun to be around everyone. It feels like home already. I’m very excited to get the first day out of the way and now we’re able to keep going.
OLIVE: Is it nice not to be the new guy anymore?
LUNDELL: Well, I’m still one of the younger guys even if I’m not new. But of course it feels more comfortable now that I know the guys. We have a lot of great guys on this team.
OLIVE: Now that you’ve had a few months to reflect, how will you remember your rookie season?
LUNDELL: It was a great season for me and a great season for the team. Overall, we just enjoyed the game and enjoyed playing together. Every day, the guys came to the rink with a huge smile. We had fun, but when we played the games we were all-in and very focused. We played really well together, and that’s what we want this season. We have good chemistry.
OLIVE: How did it feel going home this summer with an NHL season under your belt?
LUNDELL: It was different, for sure. Back home people recognize me more. Hockey is the number one sport in Finland. All my friends and family were really excited to hear about how life is in Florida and how the NHL works. I think I had to explain 100 times the same stories, but that was fine [laughs]. You want to share the good memories and the good moments.
OLIVE: Did you adjust your offseason training based on what you learned as a rookie?
LUNDELL: Not too much. I had the same training group and the same personal trainers that I’ve had for the last four summers. I worked on everything. I tried to get more power, better conditioned, and worked on skating and shooting. It was a lot of simple stuff. But after watching the best players and how they work in the NHL, you see things you want to take for yourself.
OLIVE: Taking a look at Instagram, it looked like you spent a lot of time fishing as well. Did you spend a lot of time on the water when you weren’t at the rink or in the gym?
LUNDELL: I’d go once in a while. It’s good to get the mind off of everything. Being at the ocean, it’s just so peaceful. You’re not stressing. You’re just enjoying the summer. It’s very, very fun.
OLIVE: Speaking of fun, did you come up with any new cellies this summer?
LUNDELL: We’ll see. I might have some new cells, but I’ve got to score first [laughs].
OLIVE: As you start to settle back into life in South Florida, were there any places you were really looking forward to hitting up once you got back into town earlier this month?
LUNDELL: I really like Louie Bossi’s and Noodles Panini on Las Olas. It’s two Italian places. During the season there’s a lot of pasta. Florida, overall, it’s a little too hot for me right now with the sun. I’m still adjusting [laughs]. But I love going to the beach and relaxing on my days off.