Jets Should Consider Locking Up Lindholm

Of all the restricted and unrestricted free agents the Winnipeg Jets have to deal with this offseason, one they mustn’t forget about is Par Lindholm. The Jets acquired the 27-year-old centre from the Toronto Maple Leafs at this past February’s trade deadline.

It wasn’t a high-profile deal like their deal for fellow middleman Kevin Hayes; rather, it was more about putting the seemingly never-ending Nic Petan saga to rest by finally shipping the forward out of town.

Related: Nic Petan: Winnipeg Jets’ Outside Man Once Again

The trade, although seemingly inconsequential at the time, could turn out to benefit the Jets more than it first seemed.

Lindholm Got Limited Opportunities with the Jets, But…

It’s true the Swede didn’t get many opportunities with the Jets. He made his debut on March 3 after Adam Lowry was suspended for a careless high stick, but ended up playing in just four regular season games, registering one assist and skating an average of 9:47. He also suited up for two playoff games, but went pointless. Puck possession-wise, he was quite strong.

St. Louis Blues Jordan Binnington Winnipeg Jets Par Lindholm
Lindholm suited up for four regular season games and two playoff tilts for the Jets. (James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports)

Although it’s tough to draw many concrete conclusions from Lindholm’s six games down the stretch, his body of work as a professional indicates he could be a good option going forward.

…His Play Comes With Plenty of Positives

Lindholm has played just 65 career NHL games and the 2018-19 season was his first in North America, but he is no raw rookie. He’s actually quite experienced, which is one of the reasons Jets’ general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff acquired him. Between 2010 and 2018, he played seven full seasons in the Swedish Hockey League with Sundsvall IF, Karlskrona HK, and Skelleftea AIK.

His 2017-18 season — the campaign before he signed a one-year contract with Maple Leafs last May — was his best, as he registered 18 goals and 29 assists for a career-high 47 points.
Prior to coming to North America for the 2018-19 season, Lindholm spent seven seasons in the SHL, the last four with Skelleftea.

Rory Bolen noted Lindholm — an alternate captain for three seasons with Skelleftea — centred one of the SHL’s top lines that season, and his underlying numbers were very good.

Lindholm Is Versatile

Lindholm’s been praised in the past as a “very smart player” who “contributes at both ends” and a guy who can be “used in any situation.”

Lindholm’s possession numbers took a hit during his first foray in North America (except during his games with the Jets). With the Leafs, he resisted 12 points in 64 games, blocked 54 shots and dished out an equal number of hits. He won 50.1 per cent of his faceoffs in a fourth line role, and also saw plenty of time on the penalty kill.

Par Lindholm Maple Leafs
Lindholm had a decent first season in North America. For the Leafs, the versatile Lindholm filled the fourth-line centre role and spent time on the PK. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Lindholm is a natural centre (always a bonus because they’re often the toughest to develop) but can also play left wing, which he did during his cup of coffee with the Jets.

Although Lindholm would likely crack the Jets lineup only as the latter (the Jets are pretty set at centre with Mark Schiefele, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, and Jack Roslovic), having more depth up the middle is always a positive.

Additionally, Lindholm could step in and win draws when his centre is ejected from the face-off dot for a violation, which happens often these days. (Too often, a certain gaudy-suited pundit would bombastically attest.)

Cap Crunch Could Result in a Spot for Lindholm

The Jets have to deal with a lot of players with dollar signs in their eyes this offseason: Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, Ben Chiarot, and Tyler Myers are among them.

There will likely be some cap casualties this summer. One may be the tenacious Brandon Tanev, who had a breakout season and put himself in prime position for a big raise.

If the Jets can’t afford to offer their franchise leader in hits and shot blocking machine that raise (likely upward of $2 million), the 27-year-old will go to a team that will. It’d be a shame for the team to lose the feisty forward, but his departure is well within the realm of reality.

Winnipeg Jets Brandon Tanev Colorado Avalanche Tyler Jost
If Brandon Tanev is a cap casualty this summer, Lindholm could replace him. (Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

If the Jets were to re-sign Lindholm for a figure similar to what he made last season ($925,000), they could use him as somewhat of a replacement.

While Lindholm doesn’t possess the same do-or-die, “Tasmanian Devil” play style Tanev does, he would give the Jets a steady option on the penalty kill and might be a good fit on the left wing in Tanev’s spot alongside Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp. Lindholm will be more familiar with the North American game next season and has perhaps not yet reached his potential as an NHLer.

While trading for Lindholm didn’t have much impact on the 2018-19 Jets, it could on the 2019-20 squad given it seems he left a good impression on the franchise in his short time with the squad and vice versa. He is a sturdy player who will come at a reasonable price and should not be overlooked as an option.