Reggie Jackson earned the moniker Mr. October for his clutch playoff hitting in a Hall of Fame baseball career.
As a lifelong Dodgers fan, Jackson’s three-home run performance in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, that led the New York Yankees to the title, still haunts me. Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm has never been confused with Mr. Jackson, but in his first October with his new team, the 23-year-old is making quite an impact.
The fifth-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft was part of a huge summer transaction involving the Carolina Hurricanes — a deal that sent Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and prospect Adam Fox to the Canes for Lindholm and 21-year-old blue liner Noah Hanifin. GM Brad Treliving followed up the acquisition by inking Lindholm to a six-year deal with an annual value of 4.85 million per year.
The early results have been awfully good.
Lindholm has spent the majority of his time on the right side of the Flames’ top scoring line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. The Swedish forward is coming off a 16-goal, 44-point campaign with Carolina last season, and has already found the back of the net a team-high seven times in the first 11 games. Lindholm has 10 total points and leads the team in power-play goals with three, and he’s been a big difference maker in the faceoff circle, winning 57.6 per cent of his faceoffs — a number which ranks him first in that category among all Flames players.
The most impressive things for me about Lindholm are his versatility and smarts. On Saturday against Washington, his only NHL coach, Bill Peters, moved him off the No. 1 scoring line to centre James Neal and Dillon Dube. The trio was put together in part to help turn around the Flames’ early-season defensive woes. The line went head-to-head most of the day against either the Evgeny Kuznetsov trio or the line centred by Niklas Backstrom, and more than held their own.
Lindholm rarely seems to be in the wrong spot on the ice, and while the Flames newcomer would not be categorized as dynamic, he is as a reliable as they come. The type of player that you can use in every situation, and trust.
A great offensive start to a season hasn’t been the norm for Lindholm. In his first 44 October outings, he accounted for only 11 points. With two games left for the Flames in month number one, the young man nicknamed Lindy has a chance to eclipse his Hurricane October numbers with two more points.
The Flames acquired Lindholm feeling like he had just scratched the NHL surface during his time in Carolina. They obtained his rights to add depth, versatility, a good face off option and a much-needed right-handed shot. While Lindholm might never be known as Mr. October, he has been quite a Mr. Fix it in the early going.