Possibilities are endless in June 30th's NHL Draft. The depth of the first round is one of the reasons to think a team near the top might be willing to trade down. Elias Lindholm, a Swedish center, could be taken soon after the Big Three. He's next up in Jeremy White’s Hockey Prospect Watch.
Ranked as the 3rd best European Skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting and the 8th best according to the International Scouting Services, Elias Lindholm is thought of as a complete center.
Lindholm, like Sasha Barkov and Valeri Nicushkin, hasn’t been playing in juniors - he’s been playing professionally. He’s played in the SEL for the last two seasons, and put up impressive numbers in the process.
Logging more than 20 minutes a night as an 18 year old, Lindholm notched 11 goals in his first season with Brynas. Many projecting him to the NHL consider him to be a great two-way prospect, and a player that is unlikely to flirt with the 80 point range in an NHL season.
A personal aside - This feels like a very safe Sabres pick at #8 overall. If they stuck here, and took Lindholm, it’d be safe. But do they need ANOTHER center that’s supposed to be good, but not great? Hodgson, Grigorenko, Girgensons, Larsson. They have four centers already in the organization that they’re hoping can turn in to something. To me, adding another one can work...but you know me, I want to go big. I don’t want another good possibility. I’d like the idea of a great possibility. I say this knowing full well that Lindholm very well could surprise people and be the best player to come out of the draft.
He can play center or wing, and made a move to wing this season despite a very good faceoff win %. Someone be sure to tell Matthew Coller!!!!
I think the Sabres need to be drafting on the wing...so perhaps if they like Lindholm they have plans for him there. Perhaps it'd mean one of the aforementioned centers would be sent packing.
Here are the scouting reports from my “go-to” sites:
Lindholm is an extremely talented player who is already an important offensive contributor for his top men’s league team. Possesses incredible hands, stickhandling skills and passing capabilities for a player his age. Displays well above-average ability to read and understand the game. Elias is strong at side-stepping checks and interpreting where opponents intend to pass or where they plan on skating, taking advantage of this to often pick off passes or hold up opposing skaters. Makes wonderful use of the ice and is strong in transition.
He has high-end offensive skills, displaying plus skating ability. He regularly shows his speed in transition, and he can pressure defensemen quickly on the forecheck. 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.
Lindholm is another nice player in a draft that is deep at the top. He’s expected to finish out his contract overseas and play for Brynas again. He’ll play physical. He’ll go early in the draft. Perhaps he’ll play with countryman Johan Larsson in Buffalo someday.