Back in 2016, the Calgary Flames drafted impressive two-way Swedish center Linus Lindstrom. While Lindstrom’s progression hasn’t been rapid or immediate, he’s quietly been rounding out his game in one of the best leagues in the world.
Lindstrom is 18th on our 2019 ranking of Flames prospects.
How did we get here?
Dating back to his mid-teens, Lindstrom has moved up the hockey ladder pretty rapidly. Additionally, he’s managed to produce consistently at every level – aside from the pros.
|15||29 in 33|
|16||18 in 23||35 in 22||U17s, U18s|
|17||1 in 4||44 in 40||5 in 2||U18s, Hlinka|
|18||6 in 50||8 in 6|
|19||4 in 41||WJC|
The Flames drafted Lindstrom in the fourth round, 96th overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft at the end of his 17-year-old season.
Stats, numbers, and everything therein
Playing his 20-year-old season, Lindstrom had a pretty solid season with a few bumps along the way. With three seasons under his belt in the SHL with Skelleftea AIK, his offense hasn’t quite clicked over from his prior levels of hockey.
You can break Lindstrom’s season into thirds. He had a pretty decent first third, where he played mostly in the middle six at center. He didn’t score a ton, but he was consistent. He slid into some inconsistency in the middle third, losing some battles and sliding into the bottom six (and eventually getting bumped to the wing).
He was loaned to BIK Karlskroga of the secondary Allsvenskan to kick off the final third of the season. He played 13-15 minutes a night in their top six (with an eye towards getting his mojo back), then came back to the SHL and finished the season with a strong nine game run. At no time did his offense pop, but at least he managed to dig in and carve out a niche as a reliable two-way player.
Those in the know
Skelleftea’s media and press manager Samuel Soderlund provided us with a quick assessment of Lindstrom’s 2018-19 campaign:
He primarily played as center in the 3rd or 4th line and got a lot of time in PK, where he was sublime. He was also on a short team loan at our second division where he got more time on the ice and played very well.
Flames director of player development Ray Edwards noted that the key to Lindstrom’s development may lie in his body catching up to his hockey abilities.
“When we drafted him he was under 170 pounds,” said Edwards. “He’s not a real big guy. Not a lot of muscle mass to him. Our main focus has been trying to get him stronger, more powerful. He’s a very competitive player, but his body wasn’t allowing him to put himself in positions to succeed enough. I think this summer he’s taken a big step already. I think he’s gained 13 pounds since we drafted him. This year alone, he’s gained six pounds of muscle just in a 10 month period. I think that’s really going to help him.”
If Lindstrom can fill out a bit and win a few more physical battles, the hope is his offense will finally catch up with him.
“In terms of his game, the coaches love this guy,” said Edwards. “He takes big face-offs. He’s the first guy over on the penalty kill. He’s really responsible without the puck. I think what we’d like to see this year is that offensive game take another step, because he has the ability to do it. Now that he’s played in the league a few years, he’s a little bit more comfortable, his body should allow him to hopefully expand his role a little bit.”
On the horizon
It seems probable that 2019-20 will be Lindstrom’s last season in Sweden. It’s his last year under contract to Skelleftea, the Flames will lose his rights if they don’t sign him by June 1, 2020, and he seems like he’s about ready to leave the proverbial nest and try out life in North America.
If we’re operating under the assumption that Lindstrom’s going to be arriving in Stockton for 2020-21, then his first impression on this side of the Atlantic will be important. A strong final season in the SHL could mean the difference between getting a shot at playing top six AHL minutes or being more of a complementary piece.
|#20 – Lucas Feuk||#19 – Josh Nodler|