Starting tomorrow, the Caps play 33 games in 65 days. That is...
Fansided Mock-Draft: Hampus Lindholm – 16th Overall (Washington Capitals)
In continuing with the Fansided Community’s Mock Draft, Capitals Outsider will now make the 16th overall selection. Selection #15 went to the Ottawa Senators via SenShot, who selected Jacob Trouba from the USNDP.
When compared to previous selection Radek Faksa, Lindholm seems a bit diminutive. He’s smaller – generously 6′ 2″, and weighing in around 185 pounds – and his point totals are tiny even for a defenseman – 17 points in 28 games with his J20 team, and 4 points in 20 games with the adult club.
In his case, looks are a bit deceiving, and that’s a great thing for the Capitals. One of the things that the club has been badly needing is someone to facilitate blueline breakouts, and Lindholm presents the potential to fill that gap (Note: Credit to TheBernieBae for catching my earlier prospect conflation. It had been a long day).
He’s not an immediate fix, but defensemen can never be expected to jump into the lineup without at least a year or two of adjustment. The Capitals currently have Tomas Kundratek, Kevin Marshall, Brett Flemming, and Dustin Stevenson in the direct development pipeline (with Sean Collins and Patrick McNeill hovering in the wings as well), but the likelihood is that only half of them will make a solid transition into the NHL.
The two to three years it would take for Lindholm to be NHL ready would give the Caps a chance to shake out the rest of their blueline concerns, most notably settling on longer-term roles for John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Mike Green (it should be noted that two of those three are up for renewal this summer; this draft presumes that both are retained for at least one season). Should Green fail to prove a long-term solution for the Caps, offense is going to be sorely needed in future generations of Capitals d-men. Carlson has tried, but he simply can’t fill that particular niche. While Lindholm has received minimal exposure to the North American market due to his quiet role in the second-tier Swedish league, but Central Scouting has seen enough to be willing to rank him 4th European Skater overall.
Not only does CS normally have decent judgment, but the international community has backed it up with accolades at the 2012 U18 World Championships, where he was named one of the three most valuable players on the Swedish team. He was also instrumental in helping his club earn a promotion to Sweden’s Elitserien (Elite League). Rögle will begin its tenure in the top-tier next fall, and Lindholm has already signed a one-year extension with them.
Unlike Faksa, Lindholm is more of a long-term project from the Capitals – he wouldn’t be expected to break the lineup before the 2013-14 season, possibly the year after. But given prior experiences with drafting large defensemen who later plateau, taking a chance on a prospect who is a little smaller and a lot more agile on his feet just might be the way to go.