It’s that time of year again and I’m here to kick off our Top 25 Under 25 Series with Gustav Lindstrom! Lindstrom (that hurts to type) was just picked up by the Wings in the 2017 draft. He was somewhat of a surprise being drafted in the 2nd round when he was projected to go in the 3rd or 4th rounds, but we have Hakan Andersson so who cares what the “experts” think!
Born: October 20, 1998 (18 years old)
Birthplace: Östervåla, SWE
Height/Weight: 6’2” / 187 lbs
Drafted: 2017, 2nd Round, 38th Overall, Detroit Red Wings
As young players do, he’s worked his way up through the ranks and in 2016-2017 he made the jump to HockeyAllsvenskan which is the second-highest league in the Swedish ice hockey system and where he is expected to play next season on Almtuna IS.
Although only averaging 0.19 PPG in the Allsvenskan league last season, in juniors he was averaging around 0.85 PPG so it will be interesting to see if he is able to achieve that against tougher competition.
Let’s start with the good news. Lindstrom has shown he has the potential to bring offensive ability with his defense and prides himself on being effective at both ends of the ice with his good puck movement.
One thing that Lindstrom has consistently received praise for is that he is a quick learner, if he’s getting benched he’s going to fight hard to improve until he earns his place back on the ice. Hakan Andersson was particularly impressed with his growth during his season with Almtuna as he worked to improve his one-on-one game.
He needs to be careful his composure is not mistaken for a lack of “hustle”. He is not considered to be particularly aggressive at either end of the ice, and with his improving skating skills it is expected he will use that edge to make a high impact. While our own Nick Lidstrom was complimentary of Gustav’s “compete level”, it has also been mentioned that he appears to rarely exert himself.
We all know the Red Wings way is to currently bench anyone who doesn’t appear to be “hustling”, but Lindstrom is a long way from the Red Wings so it’s nothing to worry about just yet.
The next season or two will be very telling in whether or not his lauded offensive ability lives up to the hype against tougher competition.
Seeing how he competes at a higher level in Sweden and then making the transition to the AHL will give us a much better idea of his potential, but I wouldn’t expect to see him in the Wheel any time soon.
He has the potential to be a solid 2nd-3rd line defenseman, and if his offense continues to be strong then he will likely need a stay-at-home partner to allow him to do his thing. I’m not expecting a Lidstrom, but by the time he reaches the Wings he may be a fresh burst of energy that will sync perfectly with veteran Niklas Kronwall...just kidding it will actually be Brian Lashoff.
With his great passing ability, I would put Lindstrom on the ice with a speedy offensive line to maximize breakaway dramatics and harness the power of his puck-handling. Scoring goals should become secondary for him as he may serve us best in a role where he’s feeding passes to speedy wingers and, if we’re lucky, running point on our powerplay.
I am bad at guessing, but I will make a guess anyway. I think he will stay in Sweden for 2-3 more seasons before joining the Griffins and that it will take another 2-3 seasons before he sees consistent time on the Wings.
In his favor, he is bigger than a lot of our young defenseman on the Griffins right now, but remember how Ericsson was bigger than the other guys and was supposed to use it for something productive?
Between Saarijarvi, Hicketts, Hronek and Lindstrom (more on those first three coming later in the series) we are on pace to have a defensive corps with a lot of offensive ability so it will be interesting to see how they get paired up with whatever older guys we’re still keeping around.
Will we be lamenting using our high pick on a bust or is he the next Hakan Andersson sensation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!