Ducks Make Surprise Selection in Lindholm
The Anaheim Ducks may have walked into the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh armed with the 6th overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft – an enviable position, to be sure – but their most noteworthy activity was without a doubt the trade that saw Lubomir Visnovsky shipped to the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2013 2nd round pick, and the trade – to anywhere – that Bobby Ryan said he would welcome. (For more on this, check out my “The Week That Was” column right here on THW.)
This is not to say, however, that on draft day the Ducks were quiet when it came to, you know, drafting. Quite the opposite, in fact. All in all, Anaheim made a total of 8 selections throughout the seven rounds, starting on Friday when they selected Swedish defenseman Hampus Lindholm with their 6th overall pick.
Why Hampus Lindholm?
Bob Murray and his scouting team may have caused more than a few heads to be scratched when they made this big Swede the Ducks’ highest overall pick since taking Bobby Ryan 2nd in 2005; especially when one considers that players like Matthew Dumba, Jacob Trouba, Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, Radek Faksa, Teuvo Teravainen, and my personal favorite, Olli Maatta, were all still on the board when the Ducks made their selection. Lindholm was, after all, the 4th ranked European skater available (behind Forsberg and Teravainen, notably), and finished the season ranked 15th overall by TSN.
Although Bob Murray and the Ducks scouting staff must be awfully high on Lindholm to take him with that pick, one must wonder, perhaps aloud, whether Murray might have been able to trade down a few picks, acquire another asset, and still get their guy in Lindholm. Or perhaps Murray and his scouts knew that Lindholm was just as high on the lists of a few other teams, and didn’t want to risk losing him. We might never know, but upon closer examination, Lindholm is an awfully intriguing prospect that, in time, might be considered a steal for Anaheim.
At 6’2″ and 185 lbs., Lindholm is precisely the type of big bodied presence the Ducks need to stock up on going forward. 18-years-old, he split the season with Rogle BK and their junior team, appearing in 28 games for each. On the senior team, playing in Sweden’s 2nd tier professional league, Lindholm scored 1 goal and added 3 assists.With the junior team, Lindholm was good for 17 points (5g, 12a)
Where he really came alive, however, was in the playoffs, in which he played 10 games and scored 1g and 4a, helping the club secure a spot in the Swedish Elite League starting next season. Lindholm also represented Sweden internationally, suiting up for their World Junior Championships U18 squad, totaling 4 assists in 6 games on the way to earning a Silver medal for Sweden.
According to Elite Prospects:
A quite all-round defenseman with good size and mobility. Skates well and does not mind joining the rush. Hockey sense is impressive and so are his puck skills. Does not shy away from the rough stuff, although not an overly physical player. Used on the man advantage as well as in shorthanded situations. Sort of a late bloomer.
Lindholm patterns his game after fellow Swede, and long time NHL blue liner Kenny Jonsson, now one of the Rogle’s coaches. He’s also drawn comparisons to St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo.
Here was the scene in Pittsburgh:
High praise from Pierre McGuire and Bob McKenzie, indeed.
Of particular note is Lindholm’s ridiculous VO2 Max time. It has no direct correlation to skill, obviously, but it does say a lot about Lindholm’s dedication, fitness levels, and mental toughness. Keep in mind that the VO2 is a test that most prospects describe as the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do and leaves many of them vomiting in a trash can in the corner, but Lindholm absolutely destroyed the rest of the field, which suggests one thing for sure – he will not be outworked, which bodes well for both his and the Ducks’ futures.
Lindholm is under contract to Rogle for at least one more season, so he’ll stay in Sweden for the 2012-13 season. You’ve also got to think that he’s a lock to represent Sweden at the U20 World Junior Championships in 2013, as Sweden will look to defend their 2012 Gold medal. Playing a whole year in the Swedish Elite League, as well as on the huge stage of the WJC’s ought to do wonders for Lindholm’s development into the player that Bob Murray and Co. think they’re getting. Time will tell.
Like most defensive prospects, at best, he’s still a few years away from having any sort of real impact at the NHL level, but with his work ethic and reported skill set, he just may arrive sooner than scheduled, which would be a welcome surprise, indeed.
As a lifelong hockey fan and resident of Southern California, he recently started a blog called SoCal Puck, which aims to explore all things hockey in Southern California. He grew up playing roller and ice hockey in the Orange County area and currently plays on several beer league teams. Collin also contributes at Sunbelt Hockey Journal.