Elias Lindholm is easily one of the more complete centers in the NHL draft this year and projects to become one heck of a special player in the NHL. If the Dallas Stars are lucky and things fall perfectly in the first round, then perhaps Jim Nill and Les Jackson will have the chance to draft one of the most intriguing and promising players in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Playing this past season with Brynas of the SEL as an 18-year old, Lindholm was a big player on a team that struggled for much of the season. A speedy two-way forward with elite playmaking ability, Lindholm is regarded as one of the more intelligent players in the draft as well as possessing incredible leadership qualities that projects him to become a formidable two-way player in the NHL similar to many of the great forwards to come out of Sweden in the past two decades.
A couple of quick notes about Lindholm's numbers the past few years while playing in Sweden. Lindholm finished with the most points of any junior-aged player in the SEL and while the totals may not seem impressive, it's important to remember that this was an 18-year old playing in one of the toughest leagues in the world -- and getting more than 20 minutes a game on a regular basis. His 30 points in 48 games translates to roughly 40 points in an 82 game season in the NHL, which would certainly be impressive for a player of his experience.
This past season, Lindholm was expected to help carry Brynas forward in a tough season for the ex-champions, with mixed results. While some were incredibly impressed by his accomplishments for a bad team, it seems others had higher expectations for Lindholm which weren't quite met. Despite those problems, Lindholm still put together an impressive season that featured just one minor penalty in 48 games -- a great example of just how responsible a player he's already become.
"Responsible" is the term you hear a lot when it comes to Lindholm, as he's touted as one of the best -- if not the best -- two way forward in this draft. He possesses elite offensive ability and plus skating yet is a hard worker up and down the ice. Currently, Lindholm does not project to be an 80+ point scorer in the NHL, yet his complete game is one that many teams are hungry to acquire.
At 6-0 and around 192 or so, Lindholm would be expected to add some more weight and strength to his frame to be more effective at the NHL level -- although he is already a center that plays strong on the puck in the SEL.
The intrigue with Lindholm lies in just where he'll fall in the draft. He's ranked anywhere from No. 4 overall (THN) to No. 7 overall (Red Line Report) while most publications and scouting services have him ranked as the No. 6 player in the draft. There's also the fact that Lindholm could end up at wing, rather than center, as he didn't seem to take nearly as many faceoffs as some would have you believe -- this past season, Lindholm took just 67 faceoffs compared to 728, 663, 584, and 521 taken by the top four on his team.
He did win 58 percent of those faceoffs, however, best on the team for those taking more than 50 last season.
Is this a player the Stars should be aggressive in pursuing should he fall to No. 7 or No. 8? There's a very good chance Lindholm would be picked up by New Jersey, picking just ahead of the Stars, and it's highly unlikely he falls all the way to No. 10 in this draft -- even if some defensemen go higher than expected.
Lindholm, like Barkov, is a uniquely advanced player for his age. He had a special season for an 18-year-old in the Swedish Elite League, often recording over 20 minutes per game as a premier scoring option for Brynas. He has high-end offensive skills, displaying plus skating ability. He regularly shows his speed in transition, and he can pressure defensemen quickly on the forecheck. Lindholm has great hand-eye coordination and he can really dangle with the puck. His ability to make plays in tight spaces is very impressive. Lindholm's two-way hockey sense is also high end, as he is a great offensive playmaker. He sees the ice at a high level, and he knows where to position himself in the offensive end. In his own zone, he makes good reads, and he commits to staying with his assignments. As with most young players, he needs to continue to get stronger. That said, he is fairly firm on the puck, and he can muscle players off of it defensively as well. He is a tad undersized, and that is his one notable weakness.
While Lindholm does not possess elite speed, he is very agile, being able to twist and turn in and out of traffic. He's got very good balance, which will help him make up for any physical shortcomings when it comes to protecting the puck and battling along the boards. He already protects the puck extremely well, has got great hands, can handle the puck at a high speed and in tough traffic and controls the play even when tightly checked along the boards. Lindholm can play an up-tempo give-and-go style of play down low to make use of his linemates to create opportunities. He sees the ice extremely well, and is extremely smart. He uses that intelligence to read the play exceptionally well. Not the heaviest of shots, he shoots ‘smart', making the right decisions when to shoot.
International Scouting Services:
There is very little, if anything at all not to like about Elias Lindholm. He can do a bit of everything and he can do it all very well. While perhaps not an elite offensive producer (yet) he has the desire and drive, and talent, to create lot of offensive opportunities. He excels off transition and is a master at creating turnovers and forcing opponents to make mistakes. He has great hands, especially around the net, is a dynamite faceoff presence and is always engaging opponents in battles. Lindholm has future captain written all over him. He brings it every single shift and can be dominant in all situations. He has some surprising power for his size.
"Lindholm played for a struggling team [in Brynas] and didn't play as well as expected," Stubb said. "It was tough for a young player to carry the struggling ex-champions, but he's still a guy with a lot of high-end talent. He's got all the tools needed to become really good."