Elias Lindholm THW Close-Up
Every year, quite a few young Europeans turn heads prior to the NHL Draft. Unlike their North American counterparts, the best European prospects are able to spend time in the professional ranks before they’re drafted into the NHL. As a result, teams can get a bit of a hint about how they handle the increased size and speed of pros and they can make the necessary adjustments.
Swedish forward Elias Lindholm not only has had the opportunity to spend a good deal of time in the professional ranks, he’s also got a unique advantage via his family. His father is Mikael Lindholm, who was drafted in the 12th round in 1987 by Los Angeles and spent two years in North America. He played in 18 games for the Kings, bounced around the minors and then went back home. His brother, Oliver, played high level junior hockey while his cousin, Calle Järnkrok, was drafted in 2010 by the Red Wings and has played with Brynäs for the past four seasons.
Perhaps because of the prior experience of his older relatives – or merely because he is quite talented – Lindholm has enjoyed a steady progression in Sweden’s junior league. He had strong numbers (61 points in 40 games) as a 16-year-old in the under-18 league. He had 49 points in 38 games as a 17-year-old in the under-20 league. And he had 30 points in 48 games as an 18-year-old in a professional league. That takes a lot of talent and a lot of preparation, both mental and physical.
The upside with Lindholm is considerable. He doesn’t rely on size or brute strength to get plays made, although he’s got a big enough frame that he can create holes if needed. He’s a creative offensive player and a hard worker, evidenced by his steady progression through Sweden’s junior and pro ranks. He’s also experienced in pressure situations, having won a championship in Elitserien last year after he joined the pro team late in the season and he has played in gold medal games at both the under-18 and under-20 World Championships.
The only potential reason to shy away from Lindholm as a draft choice would be that he’s under contract in Sweden.
Elias Lindholm plans to play in Sweden next season as he fulfils the last year of his contract with Brynäs IF
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) June 1, 2013
But beyond that, he’s a very good young hockey player with considerable upside, great hockey sense, and a lot of high-end experience at a very young age. Few players in the 2013 Draft offer such a complete package.
“Gifted playmaker who doesn’t avoid the traffic and who can be quite physical. Had to take a huge role for a struggling Brynäs team that lost a lot of key players. Did a honorable job with 30 points as an 18 year old rookie, although he struggled late in the season when it seemed like he lost some wind in his sails. Lindholm is a smart pivot who sees the ice very well. Scouts have compared him to Peter Forsberg thanks to his stubborness and hatred towards losing.”
- Uffe Bodin, Editor-in-chief HockeySverige.
“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.”
-Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus
Lindholm has represented Sweden in many international tournaments. Most notably, he won a silver medal at the 2012 Under-18 World Championship and another silver at the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Risk 1/5, Reward 4.5/5
First line center.
- Excellent hockey sense
- Excellent puck-handling and passing
- Great skater
- Experienced as a key player on a pro team (at 18)
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- A bit under-sized, will need to add muscle to compete in the pros
- His shot isn’t elite (it arguably lags behind his other, high-end, offensive skills)
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive 9/10, Defensive 8/10
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
His background and playing style have invited comparisons to former NHL star Peter Forsberg. But I’m sure the team that drafts him will be fine if he ends up like a more recent talented Swede that hasn’t yet hit that ceiling, Gabriel Landeskog.
When He’ll Go In June:
Most mock drafts and rankings have Lindholm going early in the first round, some as high as fourth overall. He’ll almost definitely be gone by the seventh pick.