The Flames entered the 2016 NHL Draft with all of their own picks, plus a few extras. Just one was traded away for a roster player; the rest, they simply used. That included their fourth round pick, which came in at 96th overall.
The fourth round has garnered somewhat of a mythos in Calgary. T.J. Brodie came out of it. So did Johnny Gaudreau. And in 2016, the latest player to be selected in the fourth round was Linus Lindstrom, who comes in at #19 in FlamesNation’s Top 20 Prospects series.
This is his first year on the list, obviously – though we’re hoping he can rise up the ranks.
A brief history
Lindstrom is brand new to the Flames organization. He’s been here for one development camp; that’s it.
Listed at 6’0 and 165 lbs., the 18-year-old centre definitely still has plenty of growing to do. The good news is, he’s got plenty of time. Playing in the Skelleftea system – mostly on the junior U20 team this past season, where he wore a letter, with select time up in the SHL – Lindstrom continued an ongoing year-to-year pattern of advancing a level and maintain over a point per game pace.
Lindstrom led his U20 team in scoring, both during the regular season and the playoffs. He was seventh league-wide in scoring during the regular season and sixth in the playoffs. He’s also represented Sweden in international tournaments.
He’s a player who can be a leader and score, and that’s not a bad gamble when it comes to the middle rounds of the draft.
Before the draft, Jimmy Hamrin of Hockey Prospectus noted Linstrom as a smart player with good puck control, who’s more of a passer than a shooter. He’s an average skater, and definitely needs to get stronger. All in all:
Lindström is a really good junior player and has a great chance to be in the Swedish world junior roster as an underage player next season. He was the best forward on his Skellefteå junior team but didn’t get more than 4 games in the SHL. There are two big reasons for that, for one Skellefteå has a great team which won the regular season in SHL but on the other hand is the issue of his physical weaknesses. He is a great Swedish prospect but I’m not sure if he ever is going to be a fulltime NHL-player. Besides the size I don’t believe his offensive edge is at an elite talent level. In style I think he is pretty similar to Marcus Krüger. I see Lindström as a later round draft pick that if he gets stronger could be a really good pick since he’s such a smart player that can be used on various roles on a team and be successful.
We also had the chance to briefly speak to Lars Marklund, Lindstrom’s coach with the Skelleftea Jr. team. Because we really haven’t had the ability to see much of Lindstrom at all, Marklund was able to provide us with some additional insight.
So, what role did Lindstrom play on the U20 team throughout the season?
“He was our first center forward. He was our leading PP player and assistant captain. This coming season we hope that he can play as much as possible in our big team.”
What’s the best part about his game?
“I will say that his smartness is his greatest strength. His smartness, the way he sees the ice and the way he’s competing.”
And the area Lindstrom needs to improve the most?
“He needs to get stronger and he needs get faster.”
Sounds right on par with Hamrin’s assessment: Lindstrom is a smart player who is still developing, and hopefully, some of that development will see him grow physically. We want to thank Coach Marklund once again for taking the time to give us a little more insight into the Flames’ newest fourth rounder!
What comes next?
Lindstrom wasn’t selected in the CHL Import Draft. That’s a pretty strong indication he intends to continue playing in Sweden, and based on his coach’s comments, Skelleftea is exactly where he’s expected to be for the 2016-17 season.
Skelleftea U20 relied on Lindstrom to score, and he came through for them. He’s played primarily on the U20 team the past two seasons, but it was in 2015-16 he got his first taste of the big team. He did score his first goal in that league as an 18-year-old, which is always a good sign.
Lindstrom will turn 19 in January, so he’s still eligible to play on the U20 team a while yet (and be a member of Sweden’s World Junior team, for that matter) – but the hope, from all parties, is he gets too good for that league sooner rather than later. Just two players above him in scoring league-wide were older than him, two were about his age, and the top two, Lias Andersson and Jesper Boqvist, are both currently projected to be first round picks in the 2017 draft.
So while Lindstrom is clearly talented, there’s still work to be done.
But that doesn’t change the fact that, in the fourth round of the draft, the Flames picked up a leader with hockey sense and vision who’s expected to play professionally in his draft+1 year – and there aren’t too many guys you can say about that.
Lindstrom should be an exciting player to watch from afar – and hopefully, he’ll be higher than #19 on our list this time next year.
|#20 – Ryan Culkin|