Though it’s far too early to see the lasting effects Joakim Lindstrom will have on the St. Louis Blues, he could very well be the key to a deep playoff run. He started his professional career in the Swedish Elite League (SEL), which is now known as the SHL (Swedish Hockey League), in 2000 and was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) September 21, 2014
He then bounced around the AHL and NHL for several years (playing with the Blue jackets, Arizona Coyotes, and the Colorado Avalanche and their affiliates) never really earning his place, which led him to the KHL for a year, and then finally he ended up back where he had started, in the SHL. But what all of that has taught him is to never stop working at perfecting your craft, and the St. Louis Blues may finally be the benefactors of his long road back to the world’s greatest hockey platform.
Joakim Lindstrom: A Crafty Vet with a Rookie’s Mindset
What Joakim Lindstrom’s unorthodox path has prepared him for is a grueling battle for a roster spot, and for consistent playing time on a top line. What he has shown in recent past is that he is finally mature enough to handle heavy workloads, and to play a team game that helps his teammates reach their ultimate goal. Lindstrom is currently towards the end of what is widely considered the prime years’ of his playing career (from age 25-31) at almost 31 years’ old, but he is showing no signs of slowing down, in fact he’s actually still been developing which is very exciting to see. His 14 years’ of major professional playing experience has graced him with the ability to stay calm in even the toughest of situations, and has given him the hockey IQ to find open areas and get quick shots and passes off to help his team win big games. Nothing shows his true skill set off more than his recent SHL success, where he is the reigning regular season AND playoff MVP (with a combined 81 points in just 63 games). The best part about his recent play is that he led his team, the Skelleftea AIK, to back-to-back SHL championships over the past 2 seasons. Can Blues fans say, “Music to our ears?”
Lindstrom’s ‘Rookie Mindset’
While he brings great leadership and success under pressure to the team, he is currently trying to stay active on the Blues’ roster, and has been fighting for a spot nightly over Blues’ vets such as Magnus Paajarvi and Chris Porter. Though this may not be an issue within a month’s time (as he will continue to prove his worth, and is on a 1-way contract) it is providing the Blues with a fundamentally solid player who can electrify the team, and the crowd with such creative plays and timely scoring. This mindset will allow him to keep pushing his limits while he once again gets used to the American style of play and the smaller rinks, which only spells out more success for a Blues team looking to finally erase some terrible ends to seasons in recent years’ past.
Super excited for the opportunity to play with one of my best friends! Welcome to St. Louis @joalinds
— Alexander Steen (@Steener20) May 28, 2014
Friendly Faces Aid Lindstrom’s Efforts to Settle in
Lindstrom’s quick feet and excellent transitional speed have really shown through in training camp and now during the first couple of regular season games as well. He has been able to settle in to his new team, new role, and new city quite nicely so far, which has been heavily aided by Blues’ star Alexander Steen. Steen and Lindstrom have been good friends for years, and have even played together on Team Sweden internationally throughout multiple IIHF World Championships.
Having this great connection well established in St. Louis helped Joakim feel at home almost instantly, allowing him to focus on contributing to his new team’s success while not having to worry about any off ice uncertainties. Alexander Steen is, and will continue to be, a great NHL role model for Lindstrom who will be able to feed off of Steen’s tremendous work ethic, awesome drive, and excellent hockey IQ to continue Joakim’s development in the NHL. When you add in his 1-year, 1-way contract that’s only costing the club 700,000 you begin to see what a deal GM Doug Armstrong was able to get, but the good news doesn’t even end there.
What His Contract Will Do for Him
What this contract says to Joakim Lindstrom is that he has no more room for error in the NHL, and he must be a real producing team member immediately. This is great news for the club, because since he has settled in with his good friend Alexander Steen (as previously mentioned), he can focus on just that. He should stay determined to crack the score sheet (almost) nightly, and he should find chemistry with others teammates such as Jaden Schwartz, David Backes, TJ Oshie, and fellow Blues newcomer and St. Louis native Paul Stastny.
Joakim Lindstrom really showing he belongs in the NHL. Has looked good again tonight.
— Randall Ritchey (@randallritchey) October 12, 2014
Finding cohesiveness with this group of core players will solidify his role in the top 9 forwards with the club this year and beyond, and is sure to spell out great things for the boys in blue. As long as he can stay healthy, look for him to generate plenty of offense on a nightly basis, and to find Steen, Schwartz, and Statsny creatively, greatly adding to the team’s goal count and wins total (not to mention what he will bring come playoff time). This new style of play mixed with the Blues tough demeanor has been a welcome change to the city’s hockey faithful already, and it’s only 2 games in, so fans simply can’t wait to see what’s unleashed over the next several months.
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Mike has covered the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning in depth for The Hockey Writers since 2013. He is also a contributing writer for KSDK News Channel 5, the St. Louis area NBC affiliate, and has been a credentialed media member of the Blues since 2014. Follow him on Twitter @pep30.