The National Hockey League Draft wasn’t much of a spectacle in 1987. That’s when Mikael Lindholm was chosen by the Los Angeles Kings in the 12th round.
Twenty-six years later, amidst the pomp and circumstance at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, the Carolina Hurricanes selected Mikael’s son, Elias, with the fifth overall pick.
Quite the contrasting scene.
“It was a little bit different,” Lindholm said. “He didn’t know he was drafted.”
Not surprising, considering Mikael was picked 237th overall. Elias, projected as a top-10, heard his name called a little earlier.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Lindholm said. “It was an indescribable feeling when Carolina called my name.”
Lindholm was surrounded by family when his name echoed over the loudspeakers through the arena, a celebratory end to what was a nerve-racking week.
“I was so nervous all day and when Carolina said my name it was amazing,” he said, the simultaneous relief and excitement present in his smile. “To be here and be able to get drafted is amazing.”
Equally amazing for the 18-year-old, right-shooting center will be his NHL debut. The Hurricanes believe he’s NHL-ready, based on his ability to perform and produce in a high-level professional league with men twice his age.
“One of his greatest assets is his tremendous compete level. He competes hard every shift, pushes the pace and plays a high tempo game,” said Tony MacDonald, the Hurricanes’ head of amateur scouting. “He does everything at speed. He can make plays, he can shoot the puck and he can create.”
When asked if he would play in the NHL come this fall, Lindholm, who is under contract for another year with Brynas of the SHL, couldn’t say.
“I don’t know,” he said, the smile still ever-present. “We’ll see.”
Mikael played in 18 games for the Kings in the 1989-90 season, recording a pair of goals and assists (four points). That was the extent of his NHL career, but he can say that he skated on a line with Wayne Gretzky.
“He liked it over here,” Lindholm said. “He told me a lot about that and how it was to play with Gretzky.”
Elias, who possess high-end offensive abilities, said he isn’t his father’s son on the ice.
“He was tough. He was a defensive center. He wasn’t so skilled, but he was good,” Lindholm said. “Maybe I’m a more skilled guy, so we’re not the same player.”
On Sunday, Lindholm took a giant step toward fulfilling a lifelong goal.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed about playing in the NHL. It’s the best league in the world,” he said. “You never know how long it’s going to take until you can play in the NHL. It might take a few months or a few years. I’m going to go back home, practice hard and hopefully get ready as soon as possible.”