Update: The Anaheim Ducks have taken Lindholm with the 6th overall pick.
Born: 01/20/94, Helsingborg, Sweden
NHL Central Scouting Rank: #4 European Skater
Player Pages: NHL – EP – HF
Lindholm is a mobile two-way defenseman with good size and reach. His offensive ability stems from his creativity and vision; he knows where to put the puck in the offensive zone. He is still working on his consistency in his own zone, but that is common among young defenders. If he has a major drawback, it is that he is not overly physical. He needs to work on his strength to improve his play along the boards if he wants to be effective.
Lindholm had a solid debut in the Swedish Hockey Allsvenskan, the #2 league in Sweden. He played 21 games for Rögle, posting 4 points, 12 penalty minutes, and a -1 rating, solid numbers for an 18-year old rookie. When it came time for Rögle to play for promotion to the Elite League, Lindholm posted 1 goal, 5 points, and a +6 rating in 10 games, very impressive numbers against the top Allsvenskan teams and bottom Elite League teams. Against younger players, Lindholm posted 5 goals and 17 points in 28 games in the U20 Allsvenskan to go along with a +25 rating, not to mention 4 assists in 6 World Under-18 games. Those kind of numbers mean he was capable of controlling the play at both ends of the rink against players his own age.
Lindholm already boasts the size to play in the NHL, and he’s only going to get bigger. He could project to be a Victor Hedman-type in terms of his offensive ability (20-30 point range or more) and could play on the second powerplay unit. His defensive upside is still somewhat in question, so it is not likely the Capitals will pencil him in on the shutdown pairing any time soon, but he would certainly be a useful 2nd pairing defenseman.
Will the Capitals draft him?:
Lindholm’s upside is still up in the air, leading some pundits to place him anywhere from 15th to out of the first round, but certainly a possibility with the #16 pick. George McPhee has a thing for not-overly physical defensemen, and he has drafted some good, big Swedish defensemen before (Johnny Oduya), so it’s not out of the question. McPhee has never used a pick higher than the 5th round on a Swedish defenseman (2004 Oscar Hedman, Victor’s older brother), so he had better be sure before he breaks with tradition.
Plans for next season:
With Lindholm helping Rögle back into the Elite League, he should get more good experience against the top players in Sweden next season. McPhee likes to let his defensemen develop for a couple seasons, and it is quite likely Lindholm will need at least two more seasons before coming to the NHL as he develops his physical game against grown men.