Flames First Round Targets 2013: Elias Lindholm


Aside from Sean Monahan, Elitersen rookie Elias Lindholm is perhaps the Flames most likely choice at 6th overall this coming June. Like Monahan and Aleksandr Barkov, Lindholm is a center with a offensive capabilities and an advanced two-way game. So, like the two targets we have already profiled, Lindholm ticks a lot of the organization’s boxes.

Unlike Monahan and Barkov, however, Lindholm isn’t a "big body", standing at about 5’11" and weighing 185 pounds. That doesn’t make him overly small, but it also means he’s not the ideal vision of strength and size down the middle.

Nevertheless, Lindholm is universally tabbed as one of the best talents in this draft. International scouting service ranks him the 7th best skater available, while central scouting has him the third best European skater behind Barkov and Valery Nichushkin. Corey Pronman placed him 6th overall while the consensus amongst the various sources collected for the NHLNumbers rankings placed Lindholm 5th.

Surface stats seem to back up the scouts. Lindholm was the higest scoring teen in the Elitersen (SEL) this year with 30 points in 48 games. Former draftees Niklas Jensen (23 points) and Sebastion Colberg (9 points) trailed Lindholm despite being older and more established. Elias was also only one of three kids to score more than 20 points in the league this year and was the youngest of the three.

Aside from the KHL, the Swedish Elite League is the toughest non-NHL pro competition on the planet, so any youngster who has success there is automatically noteworthy.

The Scouting Reports

Lindholm’s scouting profile is dominated by discussions of his compete level, intelligence and two-way game. Corey Pronman had these notes on Lindholm in his ranking:

Lindholm, like Barkov, is a uniquely advanced player for his age. He had a special season for an 18-year-old in the Swedish Elite League, often recording over 20 minutes per game as a premier scoring option for Brynas. 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.

The key differentiating feature between Lindholm and guys like Barkov and Monhahan is not only size but skating: while the other two guys are bigger and stronger, their skating is also usually characterized as average. Lindholm, however, is frequently described as having above average quickness.

In researching Lindholm, I also approached a couple of Swedish scouts/writers for their insight. First up is Uffe Bodin, editor of Hockeysverige.

Elias Lindholm had a strong rookie season with reigning champs Brynäs. He was especially good during the fall, early October, when he finally got a shot at playing real minutes. For the first few weeks, he was used very sparringly as an extra forward, but after his coach put him on the wing with cousin Calle Jarnkrok, he took off and had a great impact on the team’s power play. Brynäs eventually got into a deep funk and had a really troublesome second half of the season, where they almost lost every game and came just an inch from missing the playoffs after being one of the top teams for the first half of the season. After coming back from the WJC, Lindholm’s production tailed off. He wsn’t playing poorly, but being an 18 year-old kid on a struggling team isn’t easy, especially when you’re suddenly expected to be one of the pillars on the team as a rookie.

Lindholm had 30 points in 48 games which have to be considered very good for an 18 year-old in a defensive league like the SEL. He showed flashes of brilliance during the season that made me think of Nicklas Backstrom, one of his boyhood idols. Lindholm is mainly a playmaker with really good instincts in the offensive zone. He seems to be one step ahead of a lot of his opponents and showed great chemistry with linemates Calle Jarnkrok and Andreas Thuresson during the first months of the season.

The Peter Forsberg comparison is a bit unfair since we’re talking about one of the greatest Swedes that have ever played the game. I think the scout that made the comment meant that Elias Lindholm is pretty gritty and aggressive in his style. He doesn’t mind being physical or going into the painful areas on the ice. He’s also got a temper, which comes from being a stubborn player that really hates to lose.

As always, it’s hard to say how good this kid could be. I would guess that he will, at least, be a productive second line center in the NHL. A guy that plays good solid hockey in both ends of the ice and that could be used to set up the power play. He’s pretty all-round as a player and it’s hard to find ny real weaknesses or concerns, but one could be his health. He’s been hurt a bit a few times and I guess it has something to do with his physical play and the fact that he doesn’t shy away from the action.

Swedish fan and frequent twitterer Steffe G also supplied us with a detailed scouting report:

Skating ability: 8.0

While not a elite speed kind of skater, he’s got many other attributes when it comes to his skating abilities that will help him a lot in the next level of competition. He’s very agile, being able to twist and turn in and out of traffic while using the other tools in his toolbox to create offense.

Puck skills: 9.0

Can handle the puck at a high speed and in tough traffic, controls the play even when tightly checked along the boards, can play an up-tempo give-and-go style of play down low to make use of his linemates to create opportunities.

Passing ability: 9.0

Sees the ice extremely well, and is super smart. Can play the puck with hard, cris passes, quick give-and-goes, saucer passes, far out on his backhand, whichever way is needed to help him create offense.

Finishing ability: 8.0

Here, too, his intelligence is one of his biggest assets. Not the heaviest of shots, he is able to shoot "smart" and make the right decisions when to shoot. Definitely not a shoot-first player, he will sometimes pass up opportunities in order to set someone else up or just keep possession.

Defensive play: 7.0

Backchecks well, understands his assignments very well. Nothing out of the ordinary, but reads and reacts very well and is quickly switching his mind-set from offense to defense and vice versa in order to jump-start a play at any given time.

Physical play/intangibles: good

While he always tries – finishing checks, battling hard along the boards – he is not a punishing player. He’s strong on his skates, so he can protect the puck, and be relatively successful in board battles.

Elias’ top asset is his vision/smarts/decision-making. He sees the ice like few others, not only for passing purposes but he is able to help his teammates do better and create space for himself.

A terrific face-off man in junior, he has been playing on the wing at the SEL level which has led to an impossible evaluation of his face-off skills at the next level.

Short version: smart, agile, playmaker with a fairly advanced two-way game. Concerns are size, health and physical play. 

The Numbers

Lindholm is amongst the upper echelon of prospects in terms of NHL equivalence (NHLE) this year, coming in at about 40 with Barkov thanks to the increased quality of the SEL relative to the SM-Liiga. That said, there is some cause for minor concern when we add context to his results.

First of all, eight of Lindholm’s 11 goals came on the PP, meaning he scored just 3 times at 5on5 this year. I can’t determine how much of his overall offense was garnerd on the PP nor what is the normal rate in the SEL for most forwards, but scoring just 27% of your markers at even strength is a bit of a red flag for me.

In addition, Lindholm fired just 77 shots on net in 48 games, or just 1.6/game, which means his shooting percentage was about 14.3% on the season. That’s a low shot rate and high SH% in the NHL, suggesting Lindholm is either a very accurate Tanguay-like shooter, or a guy who saw the bounces go his way this season. Add those up and it suggests his true goal scoring talent might be a little exaggerated by his output this year.

Lindholm averaged more than 16 minutes a game in the SEL, the sixth highest ice time amongst forwards on his team. As mentioned by Steffe above, however, Lindholm spent most of the season as a winger rather than a center, which makes truly grading his two-way game as a pivot problematic given the discrepency in responsibilities between centermen and wingers, typically. That said, the youngster won 58% of the draws took over the course of the season, for whatever that’s worth.


Lindholm has drawn Forsberg comparisons, but those are probably predicated more on playing style than a level assessment of his future impact at the NHL level. Keep in mind Lindholm is a December 1994 birthday, meaning he’s 8-10 months older than guys like Barkov and Nathan MacKinnon.

His season as an 18-year in a pro league is nevertheless still exceptional, even if we grant that his goal scoring at least was dependent on SH% and circumstances this year. Like most prospects, Lindholm has some minor concerns around his size and strength, but the fact that he was able to compete and thrive in a the SEL as a teen this year suggests that shouldn’t be a significant impediment for him going forward.

Flames First Round Targets

Recently Around the Nation

  • BurningSensation

    I have to say that before these profiles I was firmly entrenched in the Lindholm camp. Now I think Monahan will be picked by the Flames. Some very good opinions and points here. Great discussion guys.

  • Truculence

    That being said, I wish both Monahan and Nichushkin could somehow fall into our lap. Could you imagine what a Baertschi, Monahan, and Nichushkin line could potentially be capable of? Buffalo may be game, as they already have a cupboard full of prospects, but I believe even they would not pass on an opportunity to draft one of these guys. Edmonton, according to most reporters, is already employing voodoo dolls to ensure that one of Monahan or Barkov somehow falls into their laps.

  • EugeneV

    Sean Monahan Born: October 12, 1994 6’2″ 193lbs

    Regular Season Ottawa 67’s

    Age GP G A Pts +/- Pim

    2012-13 18 58 31 47 78 -18 24

    2011-12 17 62 33 45 78 25 38

    2010-11 16 65 20 27 47 24 32

    Total: 185 84 119 203 31 94

    2011-12 PP points 23 29%

    ES points 55 71%

    Total pts 78 100%

    • Truculence

      Yep, Monohan had a really good season at ES last year, which led to most scouting agencies ranking him as the 3rd best prospect. Good work, again, Eugene.

  • EugeneV

    I want to trade up to #2 and get MacKinnon, and keep our #6 pick, plus one of the late firsts at least.

    These are my proposals:

    1. ANY 2 players of ours they want, plus the Pitts first round pick. (except Baertschi)

    2. ANY 2 players of ours they want, plus the StL first round pick. (except Baertschi or Brodie)

    2 Any 3 players (including 1 of the “B’s” plus any other combination of prospects’ or vets. If one of the “vets” is Cammaleri, we keep his cap hit)

    The last would give us the 2nd, 6th, 21st and 30th which would make us all very happy. plus make Florida ready for the Playoffs, plus Baertschi as a bonus.


    • EugeneV

      I love this comment… You clearly state you are willing to trade ANY of our players, but then clarify that you would do it *except* for the only players that are worth anything. Ha… Your “ANYTHING FOR MACKINNON” has some nice strings attached that are completely fantasy world.

      I’d make all 3 of those trades in 1 second flat, but you’d get laughed on the street by 110% of every GM in the universe.

      I honestly don’t believe we have any package that could get 2nd. You can’t add up 2 or 3 2nd line players and think that equates to a superstar. McKinnon could be the next John Tavares or Stamkos. Teams aren’t giving that up for Sven AND Backs AND Brodie never mind some combination of cast offs like Cammi and late middling essentially 2nd round picks.

      Good laugh though. THanks.

      I truly believe Barkov (4th) is possible IF Feaster gets really aggressive and creative. I think it’ll cost a kings ransom, but be worth it. But I truly don’t think there is any trade we could make to get in the top 3, especially given the MemCup performances we just witnessed from the big 3.

      • EugeneV

        Totally agree that Flames could not come close to offering a package that could land any of those top 3, with the caveat of Tampa’s 1st. And that would still take that Stl 1st and a decent player package and Murray Edwards willing to literally pay for that pick in absorbing that Vinny contract. And the caveat to that is the agreement that Calgary buyout Vinny so that Tampa is free to resign Vinny to a cheap retirement contract. That is the $$$$ price of that top 4 pick & future franchise player. If I were Edwards looking longterm I would do that, but its not my 25million or whatever that buyout would be. Stl 1st, Butler & agree to buyout Vinny for their 2013 1st. Wonder if the league would frown at that?

        • EugeneV

          Ya something like that may be possible from a TBay side of things… Not sure the league could frown upon it, if its a loophole in the CBA, then its a loophole.

          But I think assuming Edwards is willing to eat that kind of coin is a bit much. I mean this team has scratched and clawed to make the playoffs the past 5+ years and clearly stated they want to make the playoffs next year because it appears as if $ is all that matters. If Edwards really had a long term vision, this team would stop talking about playoffs in 2014 and start talking about a 2-3 year year walk in the wilderness to slowly stockpile a group of superstars through the draft. To me the fact Edwards is completely unwilling to do a slow rebuild reflects the fact that he cares more about money than the success of the team. And that doesn’t equate to someone willing to eat $25 million of real actual dollars to maybe draft some 18 year old who might be good.

          I just find it impossible to believe Edwards (or any other owner) would spend that kind of cash on buyouts.

  • EugeneV

    I am further convinced that Nashville will pick Barkov.

    That being the case I think the debate who the Flames choose at # 6 between Monahan, Nichuskin, and Lindholm should only be more intriguing as the draft approaches. From the beginning of the season I have liked Monahan so I am hoping the Flames draft him. I just like the intangibles he brings.

    As I said previously everyone of these prospects can be picked apart and scrutinized for what they lack, however it is up to Flame’s scouting and management to choose the player who will compliment and fit into the Flames current and future young core. While selecting 18 year old players is unpredictable at best, the smart scouts will always see that it is not what a player has accomplished, but what they are projected to be at the NHL level.

    While there is plenty of hope of moving down in the draft to pick at 3 or 4, I think that with the other 2 selections the Flames have the opportunity to select a couple other prospects who can bolster the cupboard is just important. The more assets the team can acquire the better they will be down the road. I look at the teams left in the playoffs right now and not only are they perennially in the post season, but they build up a prospect pool worthy of either helping the team win or as trade value. Basically what Calgary has at their current prospect pool is pretty good, but outside of two or three players, I don’t see too many teams desiring or clamouring to trade for what the Flames have in their stable. I just feel the stronger prospect pool the easier is to trade or build the team.

  • EugeneV

    This doesnt change mymind at all… we gotta take Monahan at 6. Another “center” that turns out to bea winger. seems similar to a backlund or gagner… 2 nd line center. his shots per game and goals at even strength bring up question marks… barkov or monahan all the way.

  • EugeneV

    So I was definitely reaching with my Tangs to Nashville proposal to get the 4th pick (and subsequently Barkov), more wishful than logical thinking on my part. I do hope the Flames do make a legitimate push to move up though, because players of Barkov’s don’t come around that often, in my opinion.

    As for Monahan vs. Lindholm, like a lot of you, I keep going back and forth. I might be going slightly crazy. But in the end, it doesn’t matter what any of us want, but really its about who the Flames Hockey Ops wants. To me, all signs point to Monny (might as well give Monahan a pre-mature nickname so we can become attached, only for Feaster to throw us a curveball by choosing an unknown high school player from southeast Louisiana, smashing our red and yellow hearts into pieces in the process, no?).

    By all accounts Weisbrod values smart hockey IQ and character (along with skill obviously), and the team has publicly acknowledged it needs size. Monahan fits the bill better than Lindholm here. Monahan is a safer pick, while Lindholm has a higher ceiling. It’s one thing for the team to get risky in the later first round like last year, but at the top 6? I think we should start adding “Monny” (or something better) to our FlamesNation vocab.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Don’t know how questionable it really is. If Nashville thinks this season was a fluke and they’ll be competitive next season, a guy like Tanguay or Cammalleri at reduced cap hit might be enough to swap first round picks with them.

  • EugeneV

    My vote is in the Monny camp as well. We really have nothing to move up to pick top 4. I think the only hope, is if Edwards agrees to absorb that Lecalvier contract with the potential of having to buy out in 2-3 years. If I were Feasty, I would sell that potential financial commitment by showing how many jersey’s & seats that top pick will bring back in the future. Yeah Vinny wont take us anywhere but the 1st will save him millions & earn millions in the near future.

    If Yzerman doesn’t do a deal to take Vinny contract off their hands, then no one is getting that pick.
    Lets assume not. Then lets get the best player & Monny seems to be that guy for the Flames at #6. Our focus is trying to get another pick in the top 10-12. Then maybe some of our players that have been bantied about here could procure that additional pick.

  • EugeneV

    Our 1st + Backlund + Brodie + Baertschi would probably generate a conversation. But what would be the point? Gutting our entire future for 1 guy who, while great, isn’t the next Crosby. Personally, I’d rather Feaster not get creative. Just nail what we have.

    • supra steve

      Dito. No need to be greedy this summer. Next year we should end up with another top 6 pick, and in 2015 Connor McDavid is virtually ours. Fingers crossed.

  • McRib

    Its interesting apparently Sean Monahan and Kerby Rychel are fairly good friends…. Both are well within our reach at 6 and 20-21, wonder if anything ever comes of that, as per Kerby Rychels Twitter today” Done 9 interviews and day 1, now off for a little workout and din din with @Monahan20 #nhlcombine”

  • McRib

    Anyone who thinks Calgary is going to pull another Mark Jankowski this season Adam Tamebllini would be that guy to surprise this season with the Pittsburgh pick, lol.

  • McRib

    I am ALL about Monohan. In fact I think he is underated. I take Monohan over Lindholm and believe it or not Barkov. Monohan sounds like he has character, a leader and seems as though he is a great 2 way player. It is character, maturity, hard work, passion and drive that make a good player. Sid is the best because of his competitve nature not pure talent!

    Think of hall of famers… Sakic, Yzerman, Gilmour, Patrick Roy! …. These ere men who were competitve and relentless. Sheer talent fades and is easy for a player to become complacent. i want character, and a willingness to learn and always get better. Flames! Take Monohan !!!

    • BurningSensation

      So you are saying you would take the next Mike Fisher over the next Nik Backstrom?

      Pass on that. I’ll take Lindholm and his higher ceiling every time.

    • piscera.infada

      I’m slowly coming around to the Monahan camp, and I agree with you in part on this – with one caveat.

      Do we know ANYTHING about Lindholm’s character, drive, maturity, hard work, passion, etc.?

      If you don’t, then you really have no reason compare the two in that area. I get it – “good Canadian kid, blah blah blah” vs. “(clearly) weak, ambivalent, Euro-trash” – and it’s stupid.

      • piscera.infada

        “Do we know ANYTHING about Lindholm’s character, drive, maturity, hard work, passion, etc.?”

        Actually we know quite a bit–and EVERYTHING I have read and seen for myself leads me to believe that Lindholm’s intangibles, grit, and drive are every bit as good as Monahan’s pretty much across the board (I don’t know about leadership, though. Monahan does seem to be more of a captain to me).

        Really what it comes down to is if you prefer speed and hands or shooting and size. (and whether Lindholm projects as a center in the NHL. That’s an important detail).

        • piscera.infada

          Exactly, you made my point for me.

          I was responding to theartfuldodger’s comment –

          “Sheer talent fades and is easy for a player to become complacent. i want character, and a willingness to learn and always get better.”

          – Assuming Lindholm is going to be ‘another complacent European.’

          All I was getting at is yes; Monahan is Canadian, that does not de facto translate to better intangibles.

      • piscera.infada

        You have a valid point that we know not much of Lindholm’s character. I am basing all my opinion on the info I get from this blog (not really an arm chair GM, just a fan).

        Its not about being Canadian. I am one who thinks we put too much into the physical hitting, grinding rather than pure hockey.

        I played hockey at the house league level 🙂 But I did compete in the ring as a pugulist. In that sport it very often seemed the guys with the pure talent worked the least, of course because they could get away with it.

        There are coachable and non-coachable skills. Leadership, drive, dedication, passion etc are non-coachable and stick handling, team systems, hockey tasks are coachable.

        I feel like the Flames could really use a leader and an example and someone who is genuinly excited at the opportunity to be a part of and lead our organization. Clearly we really have no idea which of these guys would truely be that. But the interview with Monhan lead me to believe he may have these non coachable skills.

        • piscera.infada

          I understand what you’re getting at. I’m just cautious as to what extent it actually dictates anything regarding the Lindholm/Monahan decision – thank God I’m not the one who has to make it.

          I concede that without a doubt there are players who don’t have the “non-coachable” skills you mention. As stated above however [see, Baalzamon], Lindholm also appears to have said skills (I haven’t done the legwork in that area, so I can’t say for certain).

  • piscera.infada

    How can some of you say that physicality and hitting is not an important aspect of the NHL?

    Look at the teams that are in the final 4. With the exception maybe of CHI.. Boston, LA, and PIT all big heavy hitting punishing teams that wear opponents down along the boards. BUT ALSO have the skills and offensive tools to put the puck in the net.

    Let’s look at past Swedish players who have come out of the Swedish elite league and how they handled playing against NHL opposition. I can think of 2 perfect examples who just played LA last year and SJS this year, yes indeed the Sedin twins. Sound very similar in terms of talent and ability to Lindholm’s potential really. Would you guys take even one Sedin? Hmm.. invisible in the playoffs.. big surprise. Physicality is a huge bonus in this league.

    The fact is Swedish players offer creativity and skill and when offset with other players who are big and demanding and can throw their weight around it can work. But by themselves they’re not likely to make a big impact on a game and there’s the potential to disappear from games. I believe from what I’ve read and what Ive seen of Lindholm this will be a problem.

    For that reason and the other intangibles like leadership, character and work ethic… I am going with Monahan all the way.

  • piscera.infada

    I say take the risk out of it and draft both Monahan and Lindholm, we need an elite puck carrier and a big center. Edmonton is willing to trade their 7th pick, it will depend on what they want for it. They will want Giordano but we can’t give them a NHL player for a prospect.