OctoPulse podcast: Sweden coach says Gustav Lindstrom 'top-four defenseman'

The Detroit News

Red Wings beat reporter Ted Kulfan talks to coach Jeff Blashill about preparing for life in a post-coronavirus world and former NHL defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson says Gustav Lindstrom can be a 'top-four defenseman' with the Red Wings.

Ragnarsson, who is Lindstrom's uncle and coached Lindstrom in junior hockey in Sweden, is an assistant coach with the Swedish hockey team which was scheduled to compete at the world championships in Switzerland from May 8-24.

(On Saturday, the IIHF cancelled the tournament because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

A veteran of 632 games with the San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers (37 goals, 140 assists, 482 penalty minutes), Ragnarsson was at Little Caesars Arena last week scouting players like Lindstrom for the Swedish team coached by former Red Wings forward Johan Garpenlov.

"I think he (Lindstrom) can be a top-four defenseman (with the Red Wings)," Ragnarsson said. "As he progresses, he's going to be even better as he gets more comfortable playing against better players."

The six-foot-two, 190-pound Lindstrom, 21, was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft. He had one assist and was minus-seven in 16 games with the Red Wings this year after picking up five assists in 45 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

"Playing on the smaller ice surface suits him better," Ragnarsson said. "He's not the best skater on the big ice but he plays the game more of the way I want to see him play over  here. He gets more physical with shorter strides out to the corners to hit the opposition. He's been doing really well. He doesn't back down. What I'm trying to tell him is to go out and play your game and keep your head up."

Ragnarsson feels there's an offensive upside to Lindstrom's game. Lindstrom had three goals and three assists with 50 penalty minutes in 40 games as a 20-year-old defenseman with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League in 2018-19.

At the U20 world championships in 2017-18, Lindstrom played for the silver medalist Swedish team which featured first-round picks Rasmus Dahlin (first overall/Sabres), Elias Pettersson (fifth overall/Canucks) and Lias Andersson (seventh overall/Rangers) as well as Red Wings goalie prospect Filip Larsson (sixth round).

"Looking back in Sweden, he was more of a two-way defenseman," Ragnarsson said. "He can play on the power play. He's got good skills, he's a good passer and has a decent shot. Coming over here, he didn't know what to expect but he's adjusted and I think he's been taking strides this year."

Here are some of the highlights from episode 22 of OctoPulse:

Red Wings defenseman Gustav Lindstrom is a candidate for the Swedish team at the world hockey championships in Switzerland.

1:30: Coach Jeff Blashill on latest date to restart the season

3:40: Possible playoff scenarios without the Wings

Sharks defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson, right, checks Stars forward Mike Keane during a game in Dallas in 2000.

5:20: Nine days that changed the NHL forever 

7:30: Future of the draft, free agency

9:00: Sweden assistant coach Marcus Ragnarsson

11:00: Ragnarsson says Gustav Lindstrom can be a 'top-four defenseman'

12:45: Upcoming story on Wings director of player development Shawn Horcoff

15:00: NHL in state of limbo until further notice

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