When the Carolina Hurricanes drafted Elias Lindholm with the fifth pick at last year’s draft, they drafted a center that had defensive and offensive capabilities.
His long-term potential was — and still is — a first-line center capable of 60-70 points (possibly more), while playing a strong defensive game. Imagine a Patrice Bergeron.
In Lindholm’s first season, he was set up to be the third-line center, but struggled at the spot and was moved to wing. He started seeing more success, as his slender frame could be used in more situations without taking a beating.
By the end of the season, I thought Lindholm looked more like the player the Canes hoped they drafted in June and that potential is back, but now the problem is where to play the 19 year old.
He grew up playing center, and the Hurricanes could use a third-line pivot, but is it worth having that much skill on the third line, while seeing around 12 minutes a game?
Then there’s also the issue of Lindholm having more success on the wings. His free-willing passing and stickhandling is better accommodated at that position and he’s able to find linemates like Jeff Skinner.
Honestly, though it may come down to what this offseason is like for the Canes. Eric and/or Jordan Staal may not be on the team, opening up a larger role for Lindholm, or different centers may be brought in.
I think it’s also important that Lindholm puts on more weight and strength this offseason. Most young players do that anyways, but it would also prepare the Sweden native for the wear and tear of being a center in the NHL.
With the roster how it is right now, I would want to see Lindholm on the wing with Jordan Staal. I think that would create a two-way line very capable of scoring, while playing some of the best defense in the league.
But with most topics surrounding the Carolina Hurricanes, it all depends on how this offseason turns out.