NHL Draft prospects: No. 6 Elias Lindholm

Sweden forward Elias Lindholm reacts after scoring on Russia during the IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. (CP/Nathan Denette)

SPORTSNET.CA is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey on June 30.

The next prospect in our countdown is versatile Swedish forward Elias Lindholm is the No. 6-ranked prospect in our countdown.

Stats: Brynas (Elitserien) | 48 GP | 11 G | 19 A | 30 P | +1 | 2 PIM

Who is Elias Lindholm?
A late birthdate, Lindholm completed his first full season in the Swedish Elite League as one of his team’s top players. Lindholm finished third on his team in scoring and was a finalist for the league’s rookie of the year award. His father, Mikael, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1987 and played 18 games for the Kings in the 1989-90 season.

Lindholm has been a fixture on all Swedish international teams. He was a member of Sweden’s 2011 world under-17 hockey challenge roster, and won silver medals on Sweden’s 2012 under-18 world championship and 2013 world junior rosters. His cousin is Calle Jarnkrok, a second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2010.

Elias Lindholm’s scouting report:
Lindholm is an offensive playmaker with outstanding vision and hand skills. He can dazzle with his stickhandling and impress with his ability to find the open man. He can take over games with the puck on his stick and is a difference-maker every shift. He has a strong skating stride and can be slippery in the offensive zone. Lindholm is versatile as a centre and winger, and will play with his heart on his sleeve. He’s very competitive and will do whatever it takes to help his team win.

Teams who might be interested in Elias Lindholm:
The Carolina Hurricanes, picking fifth, may be in the market for a playmaking pivot with a competitive spirit. The Hurricanes aren’t shy in drafting Swedes and could use the forward depth in their organization. Lindholm is likely among the prospects they’re targeting, and should he fall, both the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers should be interested.

Scout’s take: “Lindholm is an ultra-competitive player who really can do a bit of everything,” says Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He has excellent leadership potential and the sort of work ethic that leaves you without much doubt that he will crack your lineup and be an effective player. He can really dictate the pace of play when he’s out on the ice. He is an effective point-producer who works well in the perimeter and who can also drive the middle or push and shove to win space. Where Lindholm really excels is in the transition game. He is exceptional at creating turnovers and forcing opponents to make mistakes and has the quick thinking and processing abilities to make them pay. He does need to continue to improve his overall foot-speed and strength to be as effective at the next level.”

“Elias Lindholm plays an in-your-face style,” adds David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “He has a similar disposition to a Peter Forsberg. He had a very good year this year with Brynas, even though they got eliminated in the first round. He had a very good year riding shotgun with his cousin and second-round draft pick from the Detroit Red Wings, Calle Jarnkrok. He’s got such great feel for the game. He plays so hard-nosed, he’s very competitive, he’s a great skater who’s got good speed in the straight away, also in the diagonal. He’s one of those players that wins at any cost.”

Rankings: Lindholm was ranked third by the NHL’s Central Scouting (European skaters), fourth by McKeen’s Hockey and seventh by International Scouting Services.

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