For this entry in my wish list series, I focus on the player I was 99.99% certain the Buffalo Sabres would wind up picking in this year’s draft.
Elias Lindholm, F
Back when we were all speculating about whom the Buffalo Sabres would draft, there were two players I felt the Sabres should consider using their first pick on: Valeri Nichushkin, and Elias Lindholm. Nichushkin’s size and tantalizing potential being what they are, I projected the Russian to be drafted with the top 5, and envisioned Lindholm being available when the Sabres picked at number 8.
Boy, was I wrong!
Guess the Peter Forsberg comparisons were too much for the Carolina Hurricanes to pass on this 18 year-old Swede who has already spent time in the Swedish Elite League (SEL) playing alongside and against some guys who have already skated in the NHL.
Lindholm is very close to being NHL-ready, despite the fact that he is just now participating in his first ever NHL training camp. He is a good skater who controls the puck well, has great vision, and a pass-first mentality that is going to result in his creating a ton of plays for his linemates down in Carolina. His shot leaves a little bit to be desired – but he’s eighteen. I did mention that, right?
As an added bonus to his playmaking abilities, Lindholm also knows how to backcheck – no!
There are not many players who get compared to Peter Forsberg, and when they come along, you tend to grab them. Everyone who has watched him play projects that Lindholm will be a sure-fire, first-line center within a few years. I’m fine with who the Buffalo Sabres drafted this season, but if Lindholm ever becomes trade bait, the Sabres would do well to remember that you can never have too many first-line quality centers on a roster!