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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Hurricanes Take Lindholm Fifth Overall

Sunday, 06.30.2013 / 5:45 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Hurricanes Take Lindholm Fifth Overall
With a bevy of trade rumors swirling around the Carolina Hurricanes’ fifth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, the team opted to stand pat to draft Swedish forward Elias Lindholm.

Michael Smith
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Lindholm, 18, was Central Scouting’s third-ranked European skater and a player that the Canes had targeted for awhile, according to team President and General Manager Jim Rutherford. A native of Gavle, Sweden, Lindholm attracted attention with a stellar season in a high-level professional league as a teenager.

“This is a player who will have a chance to play with us next year,” Rutherford said. “He’s already played with men in the Swedish Elite League. He’s a guy that does everything at a high tempo. He plays every shift at a high tempo, and he’s one of those guys that’s on the puck and does the little things that you’re looking for.”

A self-described strong two-way center, Lindholm was developed within the Brynas system and made his Swedish Elite League (now the Swedish Hockey League) debut as a 17-year-old, skating in 12 regular-season games and two playoff matches for the men’s team. In the same season on Brynas’ under-20 squad, Lindholm notched 49 points (14g, 35a) in 36 games.

In 2012-13, Lindholm made the full-time jump to the men’s league. In 48 games, he paced SEL juniors with 30 points (11g, 19a) and was only one of two Brynas skaters who finished the season with a plus rating. He ranked fourth among SHL junior players, second among SHL junior forwards and sixth among Brynas forwards in average ice time per game with 16:17. In four playoff games, Lindholm’s average ice time jumped to 18:36, ranking fifth on Brynas. He finished the season as an SEL rookie of the year finalist.

“It’s pretty tough going into the men’s league,” Lindholm said. “They’re bigger, tougher and stronger. It’s more defensive and harder to get scoring chances in the zone.”

Lindholm said that as a younger player, he was more focused on skill. That changed as he matured as a hockey player.

“I think that’s part of the game, to be as solid all-around as possible,” he said. “I watched a lot of Peter Forsberg, and now when you play hockey, you have to be [an] all-around [player].”

Lindholm, 6-feet and 181 pounds, isn’t afraid to play a physical brand of hockey, either.

“He’s got some grit,” Rutherford said. “He’s on the puck, and he likes to muck for it.”

That’s one of the many aspects of Lindholm that attracted Robert Kron, who did a large majority of the scouting legwork, and the Hurricanes. Another? His affectionate personality and will to compete, both of which emerged in the team’s interview with him.

“He’s got a great personality. He’s very positive all the time, and he’s got a little bit of humor,” Rutherford said. “He’s a guy that has the character and leadership that we like to have.”

Asked what he knew about the Carolina organization, Lindholm said he played enough video games to be familiar with much of the roster. He also talked with fellow Swedes and team prospects Victor Rask and Erik Karlsson.

One day, the three could play alongside one another.

“Certainly Rask is getting closer. He’s going to turn pro this year, and his development has been very good,” Rutherford said. “I guess at some point in time that would be a possibility.”

For the 2013-14 season, Lindholm has two options: he could make the Hurricanes roster or, with one season remaining on his contract, he could play with Brynas in the SHL.

Asked if he would play in the NHL next year, Lindholm smiled and said, “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

As far as trading down from fifth overall was concerned, Rutherford said the team never had an offer that was appealing. His best option, he said, was to trade down farther than desired and acquire a good, NHL forward. If he were to have made a trade, he wanted to drop only a few spots and acquire a top-four defenseman.

That never presented itself, and the team got a player it coveted.

“We’re pretty happy to get him,” Rutherford said.



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61