Esa Lindell was a third round pick of the Dallas Stars, 74th overall, in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He was drafted out of the Jokerit organisation in Finland where he was playing for its Under-20 team, putting up 51 points in 48 games for them.
Lindell was seen when he was drafted as an offensive defenseman who needed to work on his skating ability. He's pretty big at 6-foot-3 and 187 pounds according to the Dallas Stars website. He was the last cut for for the 2013 Under-20 World Junior Championships for Finland and was part of the team that won gold in 2014. He had five points through seven games for the Finns.
Our own Henri Muroke did an interview with him earlier in the season and talked to him about that tournament and how he plays with Jokerit.
Esa Lindell has stepped up this year in terms of responsbility for Jokerit and in terms of production. The 2012-13 season saw Jokerit decimated by injuries and meant that Lindell had to be called up to fill in the holes in the lineup for 19 games.
This season he has been a more permanent presence even if he has been up and down the defensive pairings. He has had five points in his 44 games in the SM-Liiga this season, not bad for a 19-year-old defenseman who has been handled carefully by Jokerit, despite his extended stint last season.
However next year is where it gets interesting for Lindell. Jokerit are moving to the KHL and many of their Finnish squad are not going with them, Lindell is one of those. However he very recently signed a contract to play with Assat in the SM-Liiga for next year. This is a position that the Stars Head Scout in Finland, Kari Takko, apparently helped secure.
Lindell is still very raw and he is still very young. His skating still needs work but it is getting there and he is learning defensive responsibilities while playing against those much older than himself. With a contract in Assat for next season it seems likely that it will be a fair number of years before Lindell is in North America challenging for a spot with the Texas Stars.
With his future secure in Finland time is needed to polish off the rough edges of a player who has the potential to be a good, if not serviceable, in North America. It will be a few years but Esa Lindell is looking promising for the Dallas Stars.