Gustav Lindstrom's path to Detroit going through Sweden

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Gustav Lindstrom

Detroit – Gustav Lindstrom will get an opportunity to showcase his development next season – just not yet in North America.

The Detroit Red Wings’ 2017 second-round draft pick will play in Frolunda this coming season, one of the top hockey programs in Sweden.

Lindstrom, 19, is expected to be a top-four defensemen for Frolunda, and the Wings expect Lindstrom to excel.

“Frolunda is a fantastic program, and it lost a lot of its defensemen,” said Shawn Horcoff, the Wings’ director of player development. “He’ll get a good chance, a lot of opportunities that we will monitor closely, and spend a lot of time on.”

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Lindstrom was a somewhat of a surprise selection by the Wings, as many scouts considered he’d be picked a round or two lower.

But the Wings saw a 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-shot defenseman who, if not thoroughly outstanding in one area, was more than adequate while checking off a lot of other boxes.

With Almtuna IS in the Swedish junior league, Lindstrom had 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 39 games last season, with a plus-2 rating.

“He’s a guy that really came on the second half last season,” Horcoff said. “He’s physical, he skates well and has a good first pass.”

Lindstrom participated in the recent development camp for the Wings’ organization’s prospects at Little Caesars Arena but didn’t play in the intra-squad scrimmage. He tweaked his back, something that had been bothering Lindstrom in Sweden, and decided to sit out the game.

But throughout the week, Lindstrom showed the attributes that have the Wings thinking highly of him.

Lindstrom looked comfortable on the smaller, North American ice surface, something that every young European player must learn to do.

“I like the smaller ice,” Lindstrom said. “You have a little bit less time with the puck, but that’s something I like.

“And it’s a little faster game here. I like it.”

One of Lindstrom’s strengths is his quick thinking, and ability to make a good outlet pass, getting the puck out of the zone.

“I like to play fast, and you have to play fast on the smaller ice surface.”

Going to Frolunda, Lindstrom is one of several defensemen who’ll be asked to make up for the loss of Rasmus Dahlin, who starred there last season.

The No. 1 overall pick in the NHL was selected by Buffalo, who won the draft lottery and the opportunity to select one of the best defenseman prospects in decades, according to many scouts.

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But Lindstrom is looking forward to the challenge of helping replacing Dahlin in Frolunda.

“I played with him at world juniors; he’s one of the best player I’ve played with,” Lindstrom said. “He’s very skilled, a good kid, too.

“It’s good for me to come to Frolunda. We practice very hard. It’s long days at the rink; we practice hard in the gym and on the ice. It’s good for me to be there.

“I hope to play as much as possible there and do my best. It’s going to be a step up for me. It’s going to be fun.”

Lindstrom is signed for two years with Frolunda, so it’s likely he won’t arrive in North America until the start of the 2020-21 season.

“It all depends on how it’s going (in Sweden),” said Lindstrom, of when he thinks he’ll be ready to play in the Wings’ organization. “I have to be more strong, and (work on my) skating. I want to be faster and more mobile on the ice.”

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