The defensemen available for the 2012 draft all seem to possess a similar skillset. Good two way players, puck handling ability, strong positional play. Hampus Lindholm out of Rogle in Sweden won’t convince you otherwise, because he is a chip off the old block.
Lindholm got better and better each time he hit the ice in 2011-12 and eventually propelled Rogle to promotion into the Swedish Elite League with five points in 10 games from the blueline during the playoffs. Not bad when you consider he had four points during 20 regular season games.
Born: January 20, 1994
What people in the know know
Lindholm is a high-end skater who excels in the transition game. He is very effective at bringing the puck up the length of the ice and for a man his size his skating ability can be quite eye-popping. He has offensive ability as a puck-mover, as he has pretty good vision and knows how to create plays, be it from outlets or dishes off the rush.
Although a relative unknown to some at the start of the 2011-12 season, Swedish defenseman Hampus Lindholm has made a slow, steady climb up the 2012 draft ranks, to the point where he is a viable candidate to be chosen somewhere in the first round.
Pinpointing where Lindholm might ultimately land in the pecking order at next week’s NHL Draft is difficult simply based on information from the scouting services. Central Scotuing, the NHL’s scouting arm, has had the Helsingborg, Sweden native on their radar from the beginning of the season, placing him seventh among Swedish players in their preliminary rankings and fourth among European skaters in their final rankings. ISS, on the other hand, didn’t have Lindholm in their initial rankings back in October, but had the defender steadily rising to the point where he is ranked 25th overall in their May rankings.
Lindholm, who played for Rogle in the junior and Allsvenskan leagues, turned in a solid though not spectacular performance at the 2012 Under-18 World Junior Championship. This may have dropped his draft stock very slightly at the end of the season. Then again, a strong showing on the VO2 bike test at the 2012 NHL Combine might bump Lindholm’s draft stock back up a bit heading into the draft.
There is aspects of Lindholm’s game to like, such as his puck-moving ability, but he also has his negatives which include his sometimes shaky defensive coverage. Compared to some of the top defensemen in a draft heavily weighted towards that position in the early going, Lindholm probably falls into the second tier grouping at this position.
With the help of former NHLer Kenny Jonsson, Lindholm has progressed in a steady, upward trajectory this season. The culmination of his efforts was a strong performance in the promotion round of the Swedish playoffs, where Lindholm was one of the top scorers among D-men and helped Rogle jump up to the Elite League for next season.
“He’s a two-way player with some offense,” said one scout. “He’s coming up in the play a little more now.”
Despite his big frame and advanced size, Lindholm is not particularly physical, which is something he will need to hone as time goes on. But with five points in 10 promotion round games, he officially put up more offense than he did in the regular season and tracked a plus-5 on for good measure.
Based on his recent play, Lindholm’s upside may be a bit unknown. “He’s been developing,” the scout said. “He’s been getting better and better.”
Despite his question marks, on size and potential alone it makes sense for Lindholm to be a first rounder. Currently I have him slotted at 17th overall to the San Jose Sharks.
He’ll need some time to refine his game against stiffer competition and bulk up, but he will definitely get a long hard look to be a top four defenseman with an NHL club.