PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: Hampus Lindholm, sixth overall pick by the Anaheim Ducks, poses on stage with Ducks representatives during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
A few things stand out to me with the Hampus Lindholm pick:
The first is that the only major ranking system to even have him in the Top 10 was Craig Button. That's a plus because it means he has a high level of skill. Central Scouting did have him as the 4th European Skater available, but those lists aren't comprehensive, meaning 4th European Skater can still only be the Top 20. International Scouting had him at 19 and the consensus ranking that Bob McKenzie did had him at 15. The RedLine Report did say he could jump into the Top 10, but had him ranked as 20th. It's pretty safe to say the Ducks reached here.
That's unfortunate, because no matter what Lindholm does for the rest of his career in Anaheim, it'll always be the question of was he worth the reach. Every time Lindholm is evaluated the response very well might end up being, "Yeah, but he's no...". The Ducks passed on Dumba, Trouba, Forsberg and Grigorenko, not to mention Olli Maata, and a fair few other players that were more highly regarded than Lindholm. Unfortunatley, that's going to follow him as long as he's here, and that's a tough thing to do to a kid.
By now, I hope we all realize that if the Ducks were completely sold on Lindholm they probably should have traded down to avoid this mess. Pierre Maguire called him a steal, and maybe he will be. There are certainly things to like. He's already NHL sized at 6'2" and 196 lbs, which means maybe the Ducks see him as an immediate solution to the impending departure of Justin Schultz. This becomes more apparent when you take into consideration that Lindholm is heralded for his ability to jump into the rush at the right times. He is a strong skater, and everyone seems to believe he can use his size in the defensive zone. He is potentially an elite passer, and that's something you always want in a defender.
When I read scouting reports on players, I look for consistency and usually decide that the things that appear the most are probably the most accurate. However, reading something like this from Pronman at Hockey prospectus is a bit jarring to me.
However, his pure puck skills are about average, maybe a tad more. In terms of his physical game, he's above average although I've heard some scouts say he's high-end physically, while some say he's about average and doesn't use his body that well. He's bigger than most players and he rubs people off the puck at a notable enough level to be effective in that area of the game. Lindholm's defensive hockey sense is where he needs the most work, as he's not bad in that area but he has his off moments. He does have good offensive instincts and vision, so there is potential that this problem could go away, but he does tend to look a little raw at times with his decisions in his own end or his overall positioning.
It's tough to get a guy with this much potential for size who is wishy-washy on physical play, especially when it is something the Ducks have been severely lacking on the blue line for almost two seasons now. This wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement from The Scouting Report
Lindholm is a solid two-way defenseman who still has room to improve moving forward. The 6-foot-2 Swede displays above average offensive instincts and does a good job of anticipating when to jump into the offensive side of the game. He is a very strong skater and displays good lateral movement and an ability to skate transitionally which will be major assets moving forward. Defensively, Lindholm is solid albeit unspectacular. He can be prone to mental lapses and needs to do a better job of letting the play come to him rather than force it. Lindholm has come on of late and did have a solid showing at the U18’s which has been the major catalyst behind his ascension in our final rankings.
Scuttlebut on the draft day thread was that the Ducks thought Lindholm could have an impact soon, and that's why they went for him. He maxed out the Vo2 endurance test in the combine, and that's something the Ducks take seriously. It's probably why Kyle Palmieri got picked in the first round instead of the early second. However, if his decision making is a problem, then the Ducks might have just spent the 6 pick on a kid that can't meet the immediate expectations that he might be tossed into.
My overall impression is this: I'm not unhappy with the player, I'm unhappy with the pick. Here's an article on Lindholm praising him as a sleeper in thie year's draft. He was definitely on other people's radar. However, I think the Ducks passed on a few players who were seen as more consensus picks in their range and they missed a chance to trade down 2-3 slots and still get their player. I'm not sure what Murray was being offered for this pick, but if he had a chance to move down he probably should have taken it. Lindholm will play here, and he'll probably enjoy some top 4 minutes while he does it. I just hope the Ducks don't regret passing on that bevy of elite prospects.
[Ed. Note: Eric Stephens just tweeted that Lindholm is planning to go back to Sweden for another year. Not-so-immediate fix.]