As per usual, Sportsnet analyst Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts column included several interesting items. This week, there was a tidbit regarding the Calgary Flames and their reported interest in adding free agents from the Swedish professional ranks.
8. A number of NHL teams were in Sweden over the last couple of weeks to scout potential free agents. There are four I know of: defencemen Lawrence Pilut (age 22) and Joel Persson (23); winger Michael Lindqvist (23) and centre Par Lindholm (26). Pilut’s father, Larry, was born in Detroit and played in the NCAA before going to Sweden, where he settled. Among the teams who were watching: Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Nashville, Vancouver and the Rangers. Likely more.
The Flames have a long history of drafting and developing Swedish players, from Mikael Backlund dating back to Hakan Loob and Kent Nilsson. Presently they have a pair of youngsters playing in Sweden in the form of 2016 pick Linus Lindstrom and 2017 pick Filip Sveningsson. Bobbie Hagelin is their longtime amateur scout in the area.
The big question: is there a fit between the Flames and the four Swedes that Friedman name-dropped?
- Lawrence Pilut (22) is a left-shot defenseman who plays on HV71 in the SHL. Coincidentally, HV71 is the parent club of Sveningsson – while the Flames prospect has primarily played in the junior league, he did play on the big club with Pilut. The defender leads his team in scoring with 27 points in 36 games.
- Joel Persson (23) is a right-shot defenseman who plays with the Vaxjo Lakers in the SHL. He’s fourth on the team in scoring with 26 points in 35 games, but has no apparent Flames connections.
- Michael Lindqvist (23) is a right wing who plays for Farjestad BK, the team where Loob is present. He’s third on the team in scoring with 34 points in 32 games.
- Par Lindholm (26) is a left-shot center who plays for Skelleftea AIK, the team where Lindstrom plays. He’s second on the team in scoring with 39 points in 36 games.
Since his hiring as Flames general manager in the spring of 2014, Brad Treliving has averaged about one European free agent signing per year: Jakub Nakladal from SM-Liiga in 2015, and Daniel Pribyl and David Rittich from the Czech Extraliga in 2016. Based on the team’s history and their tendency to look for value in these types of free agent deals, these players seem right up their alley.
We’ll have more on this as it develops.