Unlike most deadline deals, Lindholm is not just a rental player to help the Bruins make a deep playoff run. He is here for the long haul after signing an eight-year contract extension that will pay him an average annual value (AAV) of $6.5 million.
Lindholm was a big name being tossed around leading up to the deadline and his previous team, the Anaheim Ducks, certainly got a lot from the Bruins for him (Urho Vaakanainen, a first-round pick, two second-round selections, and John Moore). As a building block for the next core of this team, now is a good time to look back at his career for Bruins fans to become familiar with the new guy.
Lindholm’s Road to the NHL Draft
Lindholm was born on Jan. 20, 1994, in Helsingborg, Sweden. The left-shot defenseman spent his junior career playing in Sweden and didn’t make the leap to North American hockey and the smaller rink size until after he was drafted in the 2012-13 season.
Lindholm played for two clubs in Sweden, Jonstorps IF and Rögle BK. He played mainly in the Elit and SuperElit leagues, but he did get 20 games playing for Rögle in the HockeyAllsvenskan league in the 2011-12 season, the second-highest league in Sweden behind the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). In 20 games, he had one goal and four total points.
Where he really shone and made a name for himself in the 2011-12 season was during the postseason in the HockeyAllsvenskan. In 10 postseason games, he had one goal and five points and was a plus-6, surpassing what he did in 20 games during the regular season. His performance helped his team earn a promotion from the second-tier league to the top league.
Going into the draft, Lindholm’s stock was peaking at the right time. He was noted for being offensively-minded and a good skater. A fun thing to note, at the NHL Draft Combine, he posted the longest time on the VO2 max test, which measures endurance. It has been described as the most difficult test at the combine by many prospects over the years.
But he was also noted to struggle in the defensive zone and he needed to put on more muscle. Still, he was taken sixth overall in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Ducks.
A Stellar First Half of his Career
As mentioned above, Lindholm made the leap to North American hockey following the draft. He spent the 2012-13 season playing with the Norfolk Admirals in the American Hockey League (AHL). In 44 games, he had 11 points and was a plus-5 as he focused on adjusting to the new rink size and becoming more responsible in the defensive zone. That season he also played for Team Sweden at World Juniors on a team that included a number of future NHL talent, including new Bruins teammate, Linus Ullmark, Oscar Klefbom, Mika Zibanejad, and Filip Forsberg. The team went on to win the silver medal behind the United States.
As a 19-year-old, he made the leap to the NHL in the 2013-14 season. He played in 78 games, registered six goals and 30 total points along with 61 blocks and 22 takeaways. Most of his points that season came at even strength, with only four points coming on the power play. This is a trend that has been seen throughout his career in Anaheim, and already in Boston, his two points in four games have come at even strength. He finished that season on the NHL All-Rookie team along with former Bruins player, Torey Krug.
Lindholm developed into a mainstay on the blue line for the Ducks in his eight full seasons with them. He averaged over 20 minutes of ice time a night in all but his first season, which was right under 20 minutes at 19:26. He registered over 20 assists in four seasons and is on his way to doing so again in his ninth season.
For many of his early seasons in Anaheim, the team was a frequent contender for the Stanley Cup, giving Lindholm plenty of playoff experience. His best performances came in the 2014-15 season, where he had 10 points in 16 games, and in the 2016-17 season, where he was a plus-8 and contributed four points in 17 games.
While he never finished higher than 17th in Norris Trophy voting while with the Ducks, he has grown into a steady on-ice presence who knows how to factor into every game. He also found ways to make impacts off the ice and was a favorite in the Anaheim community.
What Lindholm Brings to the Bruins
The Bruins are slowly beginning to prepare for the future while trying to remain competitive in the final years of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, and Lindholm fits the bill. He has the ability to make an immediate impact and with the eight-year contract extension, will play a big factor in the future of this team. A core of him, Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, and Jeremy Swayman is a really great start. If Marc McLaughlin plays as well as he did in his debut and if Fabian Lysell, arguably their top prospect, pans out, then this team can continue to be competitive.
I’m not going to lie, I was really hesitant about the idea of the Bruins giving up a first-round draft pick at the trade deadline. We saw that has not worked out for general manager Don Sweeney in recent years with the Rick Nash trade in 2018 and the Ondrej Kase deal in 2020 that was really about shedding David Backes’ contract. If they were going to spend a first-round pick on a rental when they really weren’t looking like a favorite to win the couple, it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. But now, seeing that while they gave up a first-round pick, they were able to turn it into a guy who will be a core player for the next several years, it’s a good move in the end.
The Bruins should make the playoffs this year barring a complete disaster. While they may not be favorites, they are beginning to rebuild on the fly, similar to what they did after they missed the playoffs in the 2015-16 season. Lindholm joins other exciting pieces that the team has, helping them remain competitive in an Atlantic Division that is only getting tougher with teams that have a wealth of exciting young players coming into their own (I’m looking at you Detroit Red Wings).
So what does Lindholm bring to the Bruins? He bolsters a blue line that has been the weakest it has been in several years. He is a talented defenseman who will be a building block for years to come. Do they have all the pieces of a core that is ready to be a Stanley Cup favorite every year for the next decade? No. They’re still missing solid, consistent center depth behind Bergeron (though Erik Haula is looking really good in 2022) and once he retires, who knows what will happen.
But, no one can deny that Lindholm is a talented NHL player and the team is better with him than they are without him. It will certainly be an exciting next few months to see what this team can do and while not they are not favorites, if they can manage a run at the Stanley Cup in the process.
I’m Hannah Garfield, a graduate of Elon University with degrees in Film and Media Analytics. Currently, I’m pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting at Boston University. I’m a lifelong, passionate Boston sports fan and love all things Bruins.