Hampus Lindholm THW Close-Up:
Over recent years, Sweden has continued to produce a steady supply of excellent defenders to the National Hockey League. Prior years have seen Adam Larsson, Victor Hedman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Erik Karlsson chosen in the first round and jump to the NHL and make an impact. Karlsson only spent a handful of years in North America before becoming a bonafide Norris Trophy contender.
This draft class’ top Swedish defender is Hampus Lindholm.
Like a lot of other Swedes, Lindholm is not a 6-6, 200 pound “monster” like Dion Phaneuf. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in mobility and creativity. Spending the past season with Rögle BK, he split time between the club’s junior and professional teams. He nestled himself in the professional side’s roster after Christmas and didn’t look out of place playing against fully-grown men. In fact, his performance in the relegation playoffs helped Rögle earn a promotion from Sweden’s secondary Hockey Allsvenskan league to the primary Elitserien league, where he’ll play next season.
Lindholm can probably be best described as a strong offensively-minded defenseman. He is a good skater and his offensive instincts are paired with an ability to put the puck where it needs to be in the offensive zone. That said, he sometimes struggles in the defensive zone and needs to exhibit more consistency in that area. In addition, while he’s not a tiny hockey player by any stretch, he doesn’t use his physical assets very well in terms of checking and board-work. It’s likely that he’ll put on some muscle before eventually transitioning to North America, but adding size is a bit moot if he doesn’t know how to use it effectively.
Lindholm’s stock may be peaking at the right time. He had a tremendous performance at the NHL’s Draft Combine, posting the longest time on the debilitating VO2 max test at 14 minutes and 40 seconds, making him the leader by more than a minute over the next-best prospect. That means he has absolutely insane endurance.
He’s not likely to go as high up in the draft as some of his countrymen have in the past, but Hampus Lindholm is a very capable offensive defenseman that should go in the first round, perhaps even in the first half of the first round.
“Lindholm is a high-end skater who excels in the transition game. He is very effective at bringing the puck up the length of the ice and for a man his size his skating ability can be quite eye-popping. He has offensive ability as a puck-mover, as he has pretty good vision and knows how to create plays, be it from outlets or dishes off the rush. ”
-Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus
“A very skilled and smart defenseman who is great with the puck. He has been working closely with former Islanders’ captain Kenny Jonsson, who is an assistant coach with his Lindholm’s team Rogle. Lindholm was called up from the junior team after Christmas and just took off from there. He was one of Rogle’s top defensemen as they managed to get a promotion from Allsvenskan to the Elite League. Lindholm has good size and does a good job defensively although I would say he’s more of an offensive d-man.”
-Uffe Bodin – Chefedaktör/Editor in Chief – hockeysverige.se
Lindholm has been a fixture on Sweden’s national teams. Notably, he represented his country at the latest edition of the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He had 4 points in 6 games and won a silver medal.
Risk = 3.5/5 Reward = 3.5/5
Offensively-minded, top-four defender.
*See “THW Close-Up” section above.
- Tremendous cardio
- Strong skater
- Good offensive instincts
- Good passer
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- Defensive-zone awareness
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Defenseman – 8/10
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
The dream scenario would be another Erik Karlsson, although it’s far more likely he’ll be closer to Niklas Kronwall in terms of playing style and offensive output.
Off The Iron (Interesting Notes):
- Chosen in the 1st round, 30th overall, by HC Donbass in the 2012 Kontinental Hockey League Entry Draft.