Geek of the Week: Elias Lindholm Finally Delivering on his Potential

by Scott Maran on December 2, 2018
  • Geek of the Week
  • Geek of the Week: Elias Lindholm Finally Delivering on his Potential


As a fifth overall pick by the Carolina Hurricanes, Elias Lindholm faced immediate lofty expectations once he entered the NHL. However, by the time the Canes moved on from him this summer, there were concerns that Lindholm was stagnating. After scoring 39 points as a 20 year old, Lindholm only reached a high of 45 points over the next three seasons, tallying 38 goals through his next 235 games.

However, since coming over to the Calgary Flames in the Dougie Hamilton trade, he has exploded onto the scene as one of the NHL’s top scorers. Through the first third of the season, he has provided the 35th most fantasy value out of all skaters (in a standard 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power-play points, and hits).
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

Dougie Hamilton

34

41

25

3

6

91

2

44

Elias Lindholm

35

39

25

11

15

68

11

21

Colin Miller

36

39

27

2

10

54

6

45


His offensive output has skyrocketed to the point where he’s currently at a point-per-game pace (one of only 43 forwards to do so). Previously in his career Lindholm has never come close to offensive totals of this magnitude, but a breakout season from the young forward had always been a possibility. Recently we’ve seen a similar trend of forwards making huge leaps in point totals from one season to the next, such as Mikko Rantanen and Vincent Trocheck. Rantanen went from 38 points to 84 points while Vincent Trocheck (who’s the best comparable to Lindholm) went from 54 points as a 23-year-old to 75 points in the following season.

But besides underlying talent, this is also the first time Lindholm is getting the opportunity to play on an elite first line. With no offence to Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho, there are obvious benefits from spending 75 percent of your even-strength ice time next to Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. If those two can make Jiri Hudler a near point-per-game player, it’s no surprise Lindholm’s flourishing in such a conducive environment. He’s getting the most ice time he’s ever seen and is being relied upon by Calgary to be a main contributor to their offense.

Positioned on the first power-play unit with Gaudreau, Monahan, Mark Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk, Lindholm has already set a new career high in power-play points (and the season isn’t even half over). Even if Lindholm’s even-strength scoring were to slow down, we can expect him to maintain a scoring pace higher than anything he ever set in Carolina purely from his production on the power play. His 11 power-play points are tied for the 10th most by any forward so far in the season.

The only concern we should have about Lindholm keeping up this pace is from his individual shooting percentage. A 15.5% shooting percentage would be high for almost any skater, much less a forward who’s career average shooting percentage is below 9%. I wouldn’t expect a huge drop (not when playing on such a star-studded line and room for overall improvement by Lindholm) but 15.5% is high for nearly anyone.

This effect is balanced by Lindholm’s significant increase in shot totals though. His high shooting percentage would be a huge red flag if he was shooting at the same rate he was in Carolina, but he’s done a great job of getting more pucks on net this season with the Flames. Compared to the 153 shots he registered last year, Lindholm’s on pace to shatter this total with 224 by the end of the season. This has been a huge plus for his multicategory value too. Even though he doesn’t get any penalty minutes or a large amount of hits (they’ve actually been slightly declining for three years now), his shot totals make him a much more valuable asset. His plus/minus has seen a noticeable uptick too, as he’s in the positive range for the first time in his career.

Overall, look for Lindholm to keep going strong, especially with the stock the Flames have in him. After trading Dougie Hamilton to acquire him and signing him to a new six-year contract extension, he should continue to see favorable offensive deployment. With James Neal underperforming too, the Flames will need all the offensive output they can get out of Lindholm. Expect the goals to be slightly harder to come by in the near future, but look for Lindholm to mostly keep up the torrent pace he’s set this season.