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Photo Credit: Saga Westin, Courtesy Skelleftea AIK

Prospect wrap-up: Linus Lindstrom

The line has ended for Linus Lindstrom, the Flames’ fourth round pick in this most recent draft. Over in Sweden, he was a contributor to Skelleftea AIK, who start their playoffs on Sunday. There’s not a lot known about Lindstrom, and there certainly isn’t a lot of hype surrounding him, but he should definitely be on your radar.

A brief history

Linus has always been a bit of a line skipper. With his hometown club Skelleftea AIK, he cracked the U16s at 14, the U18s at 15, and the U20s at 16. In his draft year, he finished seventh in the Superelit (Sweden’s CHL, essentially) for scoring, and lead his team with 44 points in 40 games. That was enough for the Flames to spend the 96th overall pick on him.

2016-17 performance

League GP-G-A-P Primary Points 5v5 P1 NHLe
SHL 50-2-4-6 3 3 5.9
Superelit 6-4-4-8 4 5 21.87

On first glance, those are not great numbers. Lindstrom, even with about 11 minutes per game, rarely found the scoresheet. He also averaged under a shot per game, which is not great. From Dec. 21 to the end of the season, he didn’t score a single point.

But we should contextualize Lindstrom’s performance. He was playing in a men’s league as an 18-year-old (turned 19 in January), and he played 50 games out of 52, the final two being at the end of the season. That’s pretty impressive.

What’s more impressive is that Skelleftea had many non-SHL options for Lindstrom and chose not to use them. He could’ve joined the U20 team (he did play for them, but only during the preseason and during the SHL’s bye week. As in, he played there when he couldn’t play for the big team), he could’ve been loaned to an Allsvenskan team, but he was not. Of all U20 players in the SHL, Lindstrom played the most. Skelleftea is a pretty good team too, so it’s not like they really needed him to play. He was in the SHL purely on merit.

Inside perspective

Since it’s hard to watch SHL games in Canada, we turned to Skelleftea assistant coach Bert Robertsson for an in-depth look at Lindstrom (edited for clarity and brevity, and reconstructed from a corrupted audio file).

First, we asked about Lindstrom’s strengths, and how he improved from his time in the U20 league:

It was surprising how useful Linus was. We used him on the powerplay, the penalty kill, in all scenarios. Lindstrom matured a lot from junior. He has always had skills in the offensive zone, but his defensive skills were a big surprise. He still needs to work on his size, but his overall abilities are very promising.

About that promise: how did the team see him developing over the next year?

We want to use him as a top nine centreman who can build on his success and contribute all around. We want him to see more PP and PK time and continue to be an all-around useful player. He should be able to contribute more on offence, and he can add more confidence. Lindstrom made a big step from last year to this year, and we want to see him make another big step.

Since he earned comparisons to Mikael Backlund (and since we’re Flamesnation dot ca), we couldn’t help but ask if Robertsson saw similarities between the two

It is still very early to make a comparison, [Lindstrom] is still very young, but there are a lot of similarities. Backlund has been a contributor internationally and in the leagues, and he has the ability to make the team better every game. He is a very skilled player. The potential is definitely there. Linus shares the hockey sense but needs to work hard to become as skilled.

Final thoughts

Lindstrom’s year was filled with some struggles, but that’s normal to expect from a teenager in a professional league. What we should be taking away is that he was a teenager in a professional league.

From my conversation with Robertsson, I was impressed with the way the organization views Lindstrom. It is no fluke that he played that much in the SHL, and he definitely has the potential to grow into a player that can contribute to the NHL team. Don’t sleep on him.

  • scoopz

    I got to watch this kid at the U-18s last spring in Grand Forks. They lost 6-1 to a phenomenal American squad, but I remember him really standing out. They have him listed at 5′ 11″, but I don’t think he’s that big. He was a great skater and very active from what I remember seeing.

    That being said, when Keller was on this ice nobody looked that impressive. That guy made everyone else look like Peewees.

    I thought I remembered there being a chart on 18 year-olds in the SHL? Maybe I’m just making stuff up in my head…

  • The Flames primary European scouts right now are Bobbie Hagelin, Ari Haanpaa and Petri Skriko. I believe Loob has been used as an unofficial resource, similar to how some former Flames coaches like Brent Sutter and Dave Lowry likely have been in terms of fleshing out WHL scouting. But with Loob retiring from his full-time job with Farjestads this year, that might change.

    • Interesting question. Took a look for you. Of 18 year old SHLers who are +/- 0.02 PPG (without era adjusting. 18 year olds in the SHL are rare) from Linus, we have 25 hits, and only five of them played 100 games in the NHL. Those five are Samuel Pahlsson, Michael Holmqvist, Mattias Tendeby, Andreas Johansson, and Jimmie Olvestad (six if you count Peter Cehlarik, who is on the verge of cracking the Bruins).

      So there’s a decent chance he comes over and sticks in the NHL, but the upside isn’t great. Still would be nice if he made it.

  • McRib

    Linus Lindstrom definitely still has a ton of filling out to do, which could mean further upside down the road if he does. Watching him at the prospects camp this past summer he was so incredibly underdeveloped, I mean even Matthew Phillips was more physically developed. If he can add 20-30 pounds of muscle he could really benefit. Hopefully next year he can do such and start to be a more consistent offensive contributor for his SHL team.

    If anyone wants a comparable he has some similarities to Carl Hagelin, especially when it comes to his skating. He is a balanced skater who can go four ways effortlessly. Obviously he has a lot of development before reaching that upside, but it’s not unthinkable. Hagelin had 0.97 PPG his draft year in Swedish U20 Jr. A, Lindstrom had 1.10 PPG. Hagelin was actually not drafted until the next year as a second time eligible, where he posted 1.38 PPG in the Swedish U20 Jr. A, Lindstrom had 1.33 PPG at same age this year.