May 17th, 2018 the Toronto Maple Leafs announced the signing of Pierre Engvall, Jesper Lindgren, Igor Ozhiganov and Par Lindholm. The last name may be the most interesting as the Leafs are shallow when it comes to centre prospects.
Lindholm however, is 26 years old and has spent his last four years developing in the Swedish Hockey League. His age and experience are certainly pluses to the Maple Leafs at this time as they could see an easier transition to the North American style of play for the centre ice senior prospect.
At 5’11”, 187 lbs Lindholm has good size and uses it well; a quick youtube search shows that he knows how to throw his weight around. As a potential fourth line centre for Toronto, Lindholm promises to bring some solid hands along with a good physical, energetic play style to the bottom unit.
Noted via eliteprospects.com as a versatile player who can play in all situations, Lindholm could factor into the Leafs penalty kill unit. The leafs notoriously used 4-man pk units with speedy wingers and stout defencemen to add counter attacking pace to their penalty kill. Lindholm offers good speed and aggression on the PK, while adding considering value to the unit with his face off abilities.
Lindholm is coming off a great season in Sweden, one of the reasons the Leafs tendered him a one-year contract a few months back. He was the 4th highest scoring player in the SweHL last season with 47 points, netting 19 goals with 29 assists in 49 games for Skelleftea AIK. His contribution helped his team to a fifth place finish, and a loss in the playoff finals. Hopefully he can add his Swedish experience in the playoffs to the growing playoff status of the Maple Leafs now.
A potential line for Lindholm is flanked with quick right winger Connor Brown and physical left winger Carl Grundstrom. Brown is coming off a down year with 28 points (14g, 14a) following his first full season in the league where he put up 36 points in 82 games (20g, 16a). However he has good speed, is a top penalty killer, and wins a lot of puck battles with his aggressiveness.
Grundstrom had a real coming out party this for the Marlies during the playoffs this post-season. Before joining the Marlies for two regular season games (3 points) and their championship winning playoff run (14 points in 20gp), Grundstrom spent his season at Frolunda in the SweHL where he put up 24 points in 35 games. Grundstrom, 20, is a very highly rated prospect for his physical play and ability to convert like an archetypal power forward. He and Lindholm could have some Swedish based chemistry this season, and with Brown mixed in that could be a tough energy line for other teams to match up against.
For Leafs fans a player like Lindholm should be viewed with optimism and understood as the new normal for the foreseeable future. If Tavares signs with Toronto look for the remainder of the roster to be highlighted with young and older prospects filling out the lines at minimal cap hits. Even if he doesn’t, the Leafs’ top young players will need to get paid and when they do international players on the cheap will be more and more common. For Lindholm he is making $925,000 on a one year contract but obviously could be extended should he see success under Babcock.
So, will Par take his chances with the big team? I bet yes. What I do not want is another Miro Aaltonen; comes, makes a small splash and when it came his time, he left. Lindholm is a great centre option for Leaf fans to get excited about for the upcoming season, even if he isn’t named Tavares!