FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2018: #12 Linus Lindstrom

It’s something about those Swedish centres.

When the Flames picked Linus Lindstrom in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, they brought in a long-term project. That’s not unusual for mid to late round European picks, but Lindstrom has been making positive strides faster than expected. The 6’0″, 165 lb. left-shooting Swede has made his name for his defensive abilities, honing his skill in the SHL where few teenagers see ice time. This is in addition to a strong silver medal appearance at the World Juniors, where he handled some of the tougher matchups for Team Sweden. His strong season means he has catapulted from honourable mention to #12 this year.

How did we get here?

Lindstrom has been somewhat of a teenage sensation over in Sweden, making his name known as an offensive dynamo in the Swedish junior leagues. At age 15, he hit just under a point per game in the U18 leagues. The next year, he was doing the same in the U20 leagues. At age 17, he put up 44 points in 40 Superelit (top Swedish junior league) games and got his first taste of the SHL, picking up a point in four games. A silver medal U18 WJC performance solidified his case as an interesting prospect, and he went 96th overall in the 2016 draft.

Post-draft, Lindstrom’s had two seasons that have been the toughest test of his young career. He’s spent his final two teenage years playing hockey for Skelleftea in the SHL, a rare feat for teenage players. Lindstrom has not necessarily been putting up numbers (he has 10 total points in 91 games) but has been making a name for himself as a defensive centre in Skelleftea’s bottom six. Despite the lack of offensive output, Lindstrom was selected to Sweden’s WJC team, taking a top six shutdown role with the national junior team.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

There’s not much to look at for Lindstrom’s numbers. He picked up four points this year in 41 games, down from six points in 50 games last year. Given that he didn’t really move much from his fourth line role with Skelleftea, it was unlikely he was going to have an offensive breakout.

Games played Goals Assists Points
SHL 41 3 1 4
WJC 7 0 3 3

Lindstrom saw heavier usage in the World Juniors, but not necessarily more offensive ice. He was tasked with keeping the opposition off the scoresheet, not getting on it himself.

For a more in-depth read, revisit this writeup.

Those in the know

Flames director of development Ray Edwards gives an optimistic outlook for Lindstrom’s upcoming season:

Linus’ first couple of years in the Swedish elite league, he was a fourth line guy, got some PK time, really earned the coaches’ trust from a defensive standpoint playing without the puck. Linus has ability to produce and what we’re hoping for this year is now that he’s another year older, a little bit stronger, a little heavier, he’s going to get more opportunities in offensive situations…. The key for him this year is we’re hoping that he takes a step offensively, understanding that he’s going to be in a lot bigger role playing in a top six role versus a bottom six role, so we’re excited to see where this goes.

Future Consideration’s Sweden scout Christoffer Hedlund gives his summary on what type of player Lindstrom is:

After a rough start to the season, with very limited ice time, Lindström still had an alright season; he has established himself as a decent bottom six player in the SHL. While he had a very good playoffs for Skellefteå AIK, showing intriguing puck and passing skills, he sadly has not been able to take the next step offensively during the season. Defensively he played very well, his smarts, positional play and work rate makes him a good defensive player in the SHL. One thing I believe that Lindström needs to improve is his skating, he lacks top speed and acceleration – both which are crucial in today’s SHL if you aim to become a point producer.

Hedlund also goes to explain that he believes Lindstrom would benefit from time spent in lower divisions or developmental league so that his offensive skills can be rediscovered.

On the horizon

Lindstrom’s plan for this season is the same as it was last season and the season before that: play for Skelleftea all year, and maybe Sweden when he has a chance.

Where he’ll fit in on the roster will be of interest, as it’ll go a long way in determining how successful he is. As already mentioned, Lindstrom’s fourth line role didn’t lend to much scoring success. If he does get a boost up the lineup to the top six as Edwards suggests, it could be the spark that reignites his offensive potential. Conversely, if he stays as a fourth liner (Hedlund believes this is very likely) it probably says a lot more.

Although no longer eligible for the WJC, Lindstrom will probably see some stints with Sweden’s international team. Depending on when the SHL playoffs end and how successful Skelleftea is, Lindstrom could potentially join the Stockton Heat at the end of the year on an ATO.

#20 – Martin Pospisil #19 – Demetrios Koumontzis
#18 – Emilio Pettersen #17 – Filip Sveningsson
#16 – Milos Roman #15 – Dmitry Zavgorodniy
#14 – D’Artagnan Joly #13 – Adam Ruzicka

  • radiomonkey

    Responsible and can play with (and cover for the mistakes of) skilled offensive players. Sounds like a good AHL depth option to help bring other players along, but probably won’t make the big show himself.

  • buts

    The reality is, you can teach defense….coach’s can help teach offense but you either have it or you don’t. If he isn’t fast enough he won’t make it. Hopefully he improves, there’s time and room in his development. Like Ruziscka when you watch his team he goes almost invisible.

    • TradeBrodie

      Lomberg isnt even an effective ECHL player..he’s a bum. Whoever was behind having him apart of the Flames organization should be fired and very embarrassed.

  • Baalzamon

    Conversely, if he stays as a fourth liner (Hedlund believes this is very likely) it probably says a lot more.

    And this is why I wanted the Flames to bring Lindstrom to North America this year (actually I wanted them to do it last year too; with Stockton so short on centers at the time it made a lot of sense)

    • Redleader

      Every team needs a stephane yelle, Backlund or Dube now we got this Lindstrom kid too . Hey if you don’t score goals but you stop them that’s just as good .we could have a nice pk in the future.

  • Baalzamon

    So I was just on Elite Prospects looking at Skelleftea’s roster and trying to determine if Lindstrom is in line for an increased role (they did just lose their top center, Par Lindholm, to the Leafs) and something random suddenly occurred to me: the Kings organization might be the best farm system for European leagues.

    What does this mean? Well, they seem to pretty consistently spend time developing players in their farm team, who start putting up fairly good results but never gain traction with the big club, who then go to Europe and become stars. I thought of this while looking at Oscar Moller’s name on Skelleftea’s roster (and seeing Bud Holloway also there) and thinking: weren’t these guys both Kings prospects at one point? Looking at their results over the years in the SHL and AHL, I remembered two other former LA prospects who fit that profile (Brandon Kozun and Justin Azevedo, both KHL stars).

    Can anyone think of another organization that’s been that “successful” developing talent for European teams?

  • Stu Gotz

    Treliving’s tenure with the Flames will now depend on the Flames ability to win now and make the playoffs. As a fan I’m fine with that but it has/will be done at the expense of draft choices and younger prospects. The Flames prospect system is rated #29 which will have long term implications….

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        According to one site or person’s opinion. I’ve seen others rank us better. Fact of the matter is, most of our best under 25 players are playing on the big team already and are or will be locked up long term. Plenty of time to re-stock cupboards over the next few years. It’s where we’re at with our team’s life cycle.

        If you go on to Matchsticks and Gasoline and read the top 25 players under 25. Where do you think this stacks up against other teams league wide? Here is the first 20 on that list, note that about half of these are already on the big team:

        #1 – Gaudreau
        #2 – Monahan
        # 3 – Tkachuk
        #4 – Hanifin
        #5 – Lindholm
        #6 – Jankowski
        #7 – Andersson
        #8 – Bennett
        #9 – Valimaki
        #10 – Kulak
        #11 – Mangiapane
        #12 – Foo
        #13 – Dube
        #14 – Gillies
        #15 – Parsons
        #16 – Kylington
        #17 – Phillips
        #18 – Gawdin
        #19 – Lazar
        #20 – Klimchuk

        I would venture a guess that this top 20 list is top 10 in the league if not top 5 – would you argue differently?

        • Stu Gotz

          Bean-counting….I would not argue that this is not a top caliber list and as Flames fans we recognize that it is. It would be interesting to see how this compares with the other 30 teams and the criteria used to evaluate. Some sports writers have rated the Flames system as poor. My point is going forward the success of the Flames will be measured on making the playoffs. Treliving needs to strike a balance between winning and ensuring the cupboards are stocked with high caliber talent. Based purely on the Hamilton and Hamonic acquisitions alone high end draft choices were given up…that gap needs to be filled somehow combined with the pressure of icing a winning product….

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            I get where you’re coming from and don’t disagree.

            I thought Treliving was striking that balance fine with the Hamilton trade because he was so young at the time (which he’s now turned into a 21 year old stud defender and 23 year old right shot center).

            Hamonic on the other hand I was never thrilled about right from the get go. Hamonic’s enhanced stats and injury history had me worried. I would have been fine last year with just signing Stone, playing him with Brodie and bringing up Rasmus. Results wouldn’t have been much different. I’d certainly rather have Dobson in the fold right now but hindsight is 20/20. I get why Tre made the move. I think at the time he’d waited so long to make a move on D for the expansion draft (as to not lose a defender) – I believe they wanted Hamonic a year earlier when he originally requested the trade (before his stats tanked). I think Tre got an itchy trigger finger to address the D that he let it cloud what the stats were then saying about Hamonic. The expansion draft made him impatient.

            Since Burke has left there hasn’t been a move I’ve hated by Tre. That’s with the acknowledgment that James Neal last two years might hurt. Team needs to start winning now.

            Tre’s had his blunders. Hard to know how much was Burke vs. him, but one thing is for sure… he has his pulse on the league and other teams and by all reports works incredibly hard. He’s also not gun-shy to make a move and acknowledges his mistakes (Brouwer buyout). I think we see Tre just getting better and better in the next few years.

      • Just a Fan

        It is nice that the Treliving family have a place to post messages 🙂

        You can safely say that Treliving is one of the best 31 GMs in the NHL but calling him an allstar is just wrong. His record in free agency is awful and his record at the draft is not great. He seems to be pretty good at signing his own players to reasonable contracts but has made a couple of dick moves this summer that make me scratch my head.

        • Redleader

          Yes but it’s his first crack at head GM and he’s Getting better every year and as far as his Free agent signings what really better options did he have ? He tried to make the team better , did we think hiller and Elliot were going to play mediocre? Let’s call you Captain hindsight!!! As far as his drafting maybe it was the scouting or burkes fault . So when TKACHUK and Valimaki become superstars and if Bennett breaks out , His misses at the draft won’t mean squat it’s the hits that matter most!

          • FL?MES

            When evaluating Tre’s tenure this far you also need to question Burke’s influence on some of the decisions. Recent moves by Tre suggests that he is righting the ship and setting it on his own course

            The future looks promising.

          • Derzie

            GMs are measured on playoff wins & cups. By that measure, Tre is not doing so well. Let’s not call him elite based on hope. I’d call him ‘active’. That’s as far as it goes at this point. Let’s revisit in a year.

          • MDG1600

            IMHO the truth is in the middle ground people. At this point it is pretty clear that Trelivings teams have done nothing to support calling him a genius GM (And before everyone starts heaping the blame on GG please recall who thought it was great idea to hire GG…). On the other hand it is way too early to call him a bust after 4 years because there is some talent on the roster and potential for the upcoming year. I agree with Stu Gotz in that this is a big year for Tre. If the Flames miss the playoffs again I expect support for him on this site will decline markedly.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I think it will only have long term implications if it continues to be a trend. Tre can’t keep trading away top picks if he wants to manage the cap. Getting players like Tkachuk in the line up at an entry level contract for 3 years vital. What I find encouraging, is how our drafting has improved over the years. Our scouting staff have had to be more diligent with our picks in the later rounds. A perfect example is picking up Phillips in the 6th round, while teams like the Oilers use their first pick on a similiar player like Yamamoto.

      IMO Trading 1st rounders is much more of a risk since the scouting analytics is far more advanced. Players like a Keenig Kanzig and Hunter Smith won’t sneak through any more. Instead, the will be replaced by players like Ruzicka and Phillips that have the tools.

  • Off the wall

    It seems as if comments are all over the map this morning.

    We’re talking about a 4th round pick and our Nation wants a first round stat sheet?

    It reminds me of this sign I saw posted on a mechanic’s garage,
    “ Some minds are like concrete,
    thoroughly mixed and permanently set.”

    • Squishin

      It’s summer. There’s nothing to talk about, so people post whatever’s on their minds. Baalzamon’s looking at which teams develop prospects for other leagues, a few people are critiquing Treliving’s work, Redleader a.k.a. Carl is just posting everywhere.
      I suppose this is what to expect when reading an article on an unexciting prospect.

        • Off the wall

          GG’s comments;
          “We’ve put in a couple of adjustments, but one we think will take — for lack of a better term — some of the thinking out of some of our schemes. That will allow us to play a little bit quicker.”
          “Less video, more communication,” Gulutzan said.

          Pace of play is going to change is some of our attacking formations.”

          Huh? Less thinking, less video, different attacking formations?
          Doesn’t sound like GG, sounds like McLellan talk…

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            I am so looking forward to enjoying watching hockey again…just the removal of GG would have been viewed as a win but with the additions and changes Tre has made… there is reason for optimism. GG is still the king of saying a lot with little substance.

          • HAL MacInnis

            Oh, man. Thanks for sharing that Gulutzan article, OTW. I almost forgot how much sh!t the Oilers are in for this season with that guy. Then, as if a message from God, Sekera is out indefinitely. I predict a stick toss of epic proportions in Rogers Place this coming season.

  • Off the wall

    Story time…
    I’ve never shared what I do for work. I’m a Horticulturist. I spent 4 years learning under the apprenticeship of a Designated Horticulturalist (employer)

    Back when I first got started as a student, I had trouble with memorizing Latin names for plants. Still do.
    Every thing we see (plant , tree etc) is a derivative of Latin.

    My instructor ( during my school time) saw my difficulties in grasping the root words, so he provided several suggestions to make it easier on my tiny brain.

    He had me take home samples of what we were studying, look at the makeup, structure of the plant life and make correlation to the Latin word. It helped immensely. It finally all clicked for me one day!

    I’m a visual learner, so he adapted to my way of learning. I’m very thankful to this day that he took the time to help me learn and succeed.

    In evaluating prospects, we often see them at the beginning stages of their learning curve or apprenticeship as I like to refer to it.
    Try being a teenager, never mind an adult …and imagine the pressure that is on them to be the BEST day -in- and -out. Perhaps the most important thing to remember, is that ‘great teachers’-can see your potential and help you in area’s you are weak. This underscores how we shouldn’t be quick to label ones who don’t yet have, “all the right stuff” (don’t know why I used that reference) as complete busts or failures.

    I’m sure if my instructor hadn’t taken the time to help me, I’d still be in school trying to make heads or tails’ out of what I was learning.

    I think a lot of us expect more from our draft picks, and to some extent, it’s a fair belief.
    Some believe our prospect pool is badly wanting..
    We read about how we are rated by other experts and assume it to be so. But they have no idea on the development of EVERY prospect in our system.

    Sometimes, all it takes is a great teacher to send you on your way to greater things…

  • Al Rain

    This guy looks like one of those boring prospects who very well may turn into a successful NHL role player. Great that we’ve got him, I guess.

    Who’s up next, Shinkaruk?

  • Al Rain

    11 prospects left, although I have too many players on my list. Someone help me out? Is Foo considered graduated? Or Andersson?

    12. Shinkaruk
    11. Gawdin
    10. Klimchuk
    9. Foo
    8. Gillies
    7. Parsons
    6. Phillips
    5. Mangiapane
    4. Kylington
    3. Dube
    2. Anderson
    1. Valimaki

        • FL?MES

          So what you think, we probably have 3 or 4 players on this list who have a legitimate chance of making the NHL? These would be:

          – Ras
          – Valimaki
          – Mangiapane
          – Dube

          Four guys over the next few seasons seems reasonable, no?

          Obviously a goalie would be nice but I’m staying away from that discussion.

          • Al Rain

            I would say minimum 5 as Kylington is a lock to turn into a legitimate NHLer.

            Andersson is already there, I’d say.

            The only question about Dube is ceiling (top 6/bottom 6?)

            Mangiapane is very likely but not a lock.

            Valimaki is our best D prospect in many moons and will be an impact player with a floor of 3/4.

          • TradeBrodie

            I’d like to see a few of them this year. Without seeing chemistry, etc this is what I’d have penciled in..

            Gaudreau Monahan Lindholm
            Tkchuck Bennett Neal
            Janko Backlund Foo
            Mangi Ryan Czarnik
            Gio Brodie
            Hanifann Hamonic
            Anderson Stone


  • Getpucksdeep

    FWIW Just heard an hour ago Sekera tore up his achilles training. (remember Backlund doing that 4 years ago except he tore a pec.) Sekera’s for 6 months min. This is why Tre made sure the Flames currently have too much of everything except goal and even then 2 contenders for the back up role. Those guys up the road don’t have the depth to cover injuries. RNH gets hurt a lot and we know McDavid himself isn’t bulletproof in collisions. I’m certainly not sold on them cracking the top 4 in the division. We have our work cut out for us however we can definitely cope with a few injuries better this year than ever.