Is it possible the next Peter Forsberg could be plucked from a standout list of international prospects when the 2013 NHL Draft is held June 28-29 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.?
Goran Stubb, European Director of NHL Central Scouting, thinks so. Based on his early assessment of Swedish center Elias Lindholm, it's easy to see why Stubb considers the 17-year-old one of the top draft-eligible prospects from Europe.
Lindholm, a 5-foot-11 3/4, 181-pound righty-shooting center, projects to be a future top-six NHL forward with star potential. He's also regarded as an A prospect on Central Scouting's preliminary list of the top European players to watch entering the 2012-13 season.
"He's a complete package," Stubb told NHL.com. "He could very well be the next Peter Forsberg. He's an excellent skater and great competitor who gives it 110 percent on every shift. He can skate, score and pass and is physically strong even though he is a finesse-type of player."
Lindholm had 14 goals, 49 points and a plus-24 rating in 36 games with Brynas in Sweden's junior league last season. He also skated in 12 games with Brynas in the Swedish Elite League, but was held scoreless with a minus-2 rating.
Lindholm's father, Mikael, was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 12th round (No. 237) in 1987. He's also the cousin of Detroit Red Wings prospect Calle Jarnkrok, who was drafted in the second round (No. 51) in 2010.
Here are four other A list skaters Stubb will be following closely this season (listed alphabetically):
Alexander Barkov, Tappara (Finland): Barkov is one of the youngest players in the SM-liiga, Finland's top professional league. Last season, at 16 years and four months, he became the youngest Finnish player to ever score a goal at the World Junior Championship -- and finished with a goal and three assists at the 2012 WJC.
In 32 games last season for Tappara, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound center had seven goals, 16 points and a plus-5 rating. He's off to a solid start with Tappara this season, with three goals and four points in two games.
"He's smart, cool, effective and creative," Stubb told NHL.com. "He's a two-way strength who sees the ice very well. His father was a great player who played in Russia and then spent 10 years with Tappara. Alexander Jr. plays the same style as his dad did."
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Barkov's father, Alexander, starred for Spartak Moscow in Russia before moving to Finland to play for Tappara.
Jacob de la Rose, Leksand (Sweden): The 6-foot-2 1/4, 178-pound forward was a regular with Leksand last season and captained Sweden at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August, totaling one goal and three points in six games.
"He's speedy and plays a strong two-way game," Stubb said. "He can pass and shoot at top speed and is always on the puck. He's a strong finesse-type player. His older brother [defenseman Erik de la Rose] also plays for Leksand."
Artturi Lehkonen, Kalpa (Finland): Lehkonen, a 5-foot-10, 163-pound left wing, moved from TPS to Kalpa in the summer and now is earning regular shifts with the team in the SM-liiga. He had 28 goals and 54 points in 40 games with the Under-20 TPS squad last season.
"He's a smart playmaker with good moves," Stubb said. "He's smooth with excellent vision and overall skill. His dad [Ismo Lehkonen] is a coach [in Finland] with league experience at both HIFK and Lukko."
Valeri Nichushkin, Chelyabinsk (Russia): Some claim the 6-foot-1, 161-pound forward is the next Evgeni Malkin. His blend of size, mobility and offensive skill make him a total package-type player. Nichushkin plays for the Chelyabinsk junior team and its senior second team. He's expected to stick with Chelyabinsk in the KHL, however.
"He's your classic Russian forward with speed, talent and skills," Stubb said. "He's very good with the puck and is very fast. He creates a lot of scoring chances with quick, surprising moves around the net."
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