It’s hard in junior hockey to relay the talents of a future bright star without giving them a label of an NHL star from the past. We often use “next” – the next Gretzky, Jagr, Lindros, Lidstrom – to give fans a reference point.
It is often an unfair burden to be “the next” when all a player strives to be is himself.
Elias Lindholm led Team Sweden at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia. (AP)
Elias Lindholm knows this pressure all too well. The media in his native Sweden are already billing him as the next Peter Forsberg.
“It’s fun when they’re talking about me and (Forsberg),” said Lindholm. “But it’s tough to be compared with him.”
The comparison to Forsberg, particularly in Sweden, is a lofty one. But it’s this kind of comparison that has Lindholm ranked as one of the top European skaters for the 2013 NHL entry draft. Like Forsberg, Lindholm is a complete player – a good skater, extremely smart, skilled with and without the puck, and both a deft passer and capable goal-scorer.
Roger Ronnberg, who coached Lindholm and Team Sweden to a silver medal at the world junior tournament in Ufa, Russia, has tried to temper the expectations placed upon the 18-year-old.
“Those are big words for a young kid,” said Ronnberg of the Forsberg label. “He has a lot of stuff he still has to improve. I don’t want to take those words and put them in my mouth, but he’s a good player.”
Hockey came naturally to Lindholm when he first started playing as a youngster. His father, Mikael Lindholm, was a 12th round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 1987 and played 18 games with the Kings before returning to Sweden where he had a lengthy career in the Swedish Elite League.