Just a day after arriving in Raleigh, Elias Lindholm has signed his first NHL contract.
The Swedish forward, selected by the Carolina Hurricanes fifth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, inked a three-year, entry-level contract on Monday. Lindholm will receive $832,500 at the NHL level or $70,000 at the AHL level in all three years, in addition to a $277,500 signing bonus.
“I dream about playing in the NHL, and this is a step in the right way,” Lindholm said. “It was a dream come true to sign the contract. Now I have to prove that I deserve that contract.”
With written logistics in the rear-view mirror, Lindholm’s attention now turns to the Hurricanes’ revamped annual Prospects Development Camp, which begins on-ice Tuesday evening at PNC Arena.
“I want to play my game. If I play my game, hopefully I can play in the NHL,” he said. “I want to improve my strength, skating and shot.”
Thousands of miles away from his native Boden, Sweden, Lindholm found a familiar face in fellow Swede and Canes prospect Erik Karlsson waiting for him in Raleigh. That helps ease the adjustment of being away from home, but there will undoubtedly be more.
“It’s far away back to my mom and dad,” Lindholm said. “I lived with them during the season, but after the season, I was living in my own apartment. I think that was good for me to take care of myself.”
Other than his familiarity with the Hurricanes from video games, Lindholm said he didn’t know much about the team or Raleigh, but he’s impressed with everything he’s heard so far.
“It’s hot. There are great golf courses. I’m playing golf, and hopefully I can bring some friends soon and play some golf,” he said. “I’ve heard only good things.”
The Hurricanes front office can say the same about Lindholm’s on-ice talent.
“I don’t think he’ll surprise us,” said Ron Francis, the team’s vice president of hockey operations. “We really like him a lot. He’s highly-skilled and can really skate.”
“The advantage he has is that he’s already played with men,” said Jim Rutherford, the Canes president and general manager. “His development is way ahead from a skills and physical point of view, but the biggest thing I see is that he plays the game at a high-tempo.”
While expectations might be high in the long run for the 18-year-old forward, Lindholm won’t be over-slotted in training camp. His versatility – he played right wing with Brynas and center for the Swedish national team in the World Junior Championship – and experience already makes him a valuable commodity at any forward position, whether it’s the second or third line. If head coach Kirk Muller wants to balance the lines, for instance, Rutherford said Lindholm could play alongside Jeff Skinner.
“We do have to recognize how old he is and the fact that he’s going to move to a new country and there’s going to be an adjustment period. But he doesn’t have to light it up from day one,” Rutherford said. “We all know that with a healthy team, we have a good team going into camp. He can just be part of that and go along at his own pace. But based on the experience he has, I don’t think it’s going to take him very long to fit into our team.”
Rutherford and Francis both anticipate seeing Lindholm don the new red and white Hurricanes uniforms this fall.
“The opportunity is there for him to start with the Hurricanes, and I would be shocked if he doesn’t,” Rutherford said.
“We fully expect this guy can make our lineup,” Francis said. “He’d be a good one.”
For his part, now officially under contract with the team that drafted him just over two weeks ago, Lindholm confidently feels up to the challenge.
“I think I’m ready,” he said.
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