Joakim Lindstrom is making the most of his chance to stick in the NHL as a member of the Coyotes. Acquired in a trade with Anaheim last month, Lindstrom, a 25-year-old center from Sweden, has displayed sharp offensive and solid defensive skills in his first 20 games with Phoenix.
“I came into camp with Anaheim (this season) and didn’t make the team,” Lindstrom said. “I ended up being traded and it worked out. I am glad to be here.”
The Coyotes are glad he is on board, too.
“He’s been a great fit for us,” Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said. “He plays the game the way we want it played. He doesn’t cheat the game. He is good defensively and has tremendous hands. He works hard and he has been a good find for us.”
Lindstrom’s journey to the league began when he was chosen by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Two years later, in 2004-05, he joined the Syracuse Crunch, the Blue Jackets’ affiliate in the American Hockey League. For four seasons, he bounced between Syracuse and Columbus, notching four goals and four assists in 37 NHL games.
Columbus traded Lindstrom to Anaheim before this season started, but he didn’t make the Ducks roster. After a flurry of transactions, Lindstrom found himself in Iowa again playing in the AHL. He welcomed the move.
“My dream and my goal have always been to play in the NHL,” Lindstrom said. “…I thought it was time to make a move from Columbus. They were playing other guys and I was barely getting a chance to play, so I thought it was time to move on.”
Seeking depth up front, the Coyotes acquired Lindstrom from Anaheim for defenseman Logan Stephenson in what many labeled “a minor-league deal.”
|Joakim Lindstrom, left, scores a goal on a rebound against Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. |
That was not the case, however, as the Coyotes recalled Lindstrom from their AHL affiliate in San Antonio after just five days. He has notched seven goals and two assists for Phoenix, which next plays Jan. 27 at home vs. Anaheim.
“He’s just a great player,” said Steven Goertzen, a forward in the Coyotes organization who roomed with Lindstrom when they both played for Syracuse. “I always thought he should be playing in the NHL. It’s great to see him in Phoenix doing really well. He is a heck of a player.”
While Lindstrom is grateful to be playing in the NHL regularly, he knows he can’t become complacent.
“There are no guarantees, especially in this business,” Lindstrom said. “You have to earn your opportunities and a spot. I have to give everything I’ve got every game. I am happy to be here and I’m going to contribute in every way I can for this team.”