The 2017 entry draft was a big one for the Detroit Red Wings. After a brutal end to their quarter decade long playoff streak, the team closed the doors to their treasured Joe Louis Arena. A rebuild was closer than it’s been in my lifetime as the team had their first top-10 pick since 1991. With it, they selected Michael Rasmussen. It was a bit of a reach, considering the level of talent still available, but still a solid pick that would one day play in the NHL.
Those are the kind of guarantees you need from such an important draft for your franchise. That’s why it was so surprising when the Wings made an even bigger reach with their second round pick when they selected Gustav Lindstrom at 38th overall.
Lindstrom wasn’t projected to go until the third or fourth round, so it’s a bit of a shock that the Wings didn’t wait to snag him with one of their three third round picks. They must have had some intel that another team wanted him, causing them to pull the trigger so early.
Nevertheless, the 6’2” right-handed defenseman became an unofficial Red Wing and made it officially official in May of 2018 when he signed a 3-year entry level contract. The Wings expect Lindstrom, who put up 14 points in 38 games for Altuma IS in one of Sweden’s junior leagues. to grow into an NHL player.
He won’t be a big time goal scorer or someone who quarterbacks the powerplay. Lindstrom is a good skater who thinks the game very quickly. This allows him to transition quickly in his own end and start the rush up the ice with a smart first pass.
These qualities lend themselves well to the small North American ice that Lindstrom must adapt to playing on. It also helps that he is a physical player who isn’t afraid to put his body on the line.
Going forward, don’t expect to see Lindstrom in Detroit or Grand Rapids. Lindstrom has committed to playing in Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. The team has a small gap on their blueline created by the departure of a young, exciting defenseman who the Wings will face six times this season.
With Rasmus Dahlin playing in Buffalo, Lindstrom will be able to clock some big minutes in Frolunda and Detroit will be monitoring closely.
At 20-years-old in October, Lindstrom won’t be eligible for the World Junior Championship again, a tournament where he put up a single point through seven games for Sweden last Christmas. As their seventh defenseman, he didn’t get a lot of ice time, but he was a plus-2 and logged eight penalty minutes.
He is a defensively responsible player who will complement some of the offensive defensemen quite nicely in the coming years. Like I said, don’t expect him in Detroit this year, but hopefully logging big minutes with grown men in the Swedish league means he’s on a fast track to the winged wheel, bypassing Grand Rapids and the AHL.
Detroit has always done well with their reach European picks at past drafts. If Lindstrom turns into a mid-pairing defenseman, then Detroit made out more than okay, and it looks like he’s on track to be just that.