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Hockey Analytics

Flames Elias Lindholm on Fire

by Gus Katsaros
Updated On: October 10, 2018, 12:46 pm ET

Newly acquired Flames forward Elias Lindholm signed a long term deal after filing for salary arbitration, earning $4.85 million for the next six years. The 23 year old has been one of the more underrated players for a few years where I felt he was capable of more than 45 points and hovering in the last couple of seasons.


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Traded from Carolina along with Noah Hanifin for Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland, the mid-sized pivot reunites with former Hurricanes coach Bill Peters. Taking a peak under the production hood is certainly revealing.


Take for instance the propensity to generate substantial amounts of primary assists, widening the gap between first and second assists. He fired a full season career high 10.46% in all situations to score 16 goals in 2017-18, one shy of career high 17. I’d bet with three goals already, that career high is likely to be surpassed.


Data is courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.


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More balanced in 2017-18, the ratio of primary to secondary assists is still encouraging in comparison to the 29 primary assists of 2016-17 and that’s what I would focus on here. Last season seemed to drag for the talented youngster. Concerns in shot attempts showed up somewhat in shot generation numbers at all strength like in the table above.


The columns beginning with a small ‘i’ indicate the individual generation of CF (Corsi For – shot attempts for), SCF (scoring chances for) and HDCF (high danger CF). Dressing in nine more games, he generated less individual shot attempts, and barely beat out the 2016-17 totals of scoring chances and high danger scoring chances. This included 5v4 time which boosted shot generation numbers a little bit.


At 5v5 even strength, those totals declined to pre 2016-17 levels, over almost an entire full season.


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He spent a majority of the season with Jordan Staal and the talented Sebastian Aho, with goals for and against following closely to the expected goals measurements, and one of two trios to include Lindholm that underperformed his expected goals for. Essentially, his two highest timed linemates found it difficult to score goals at 5v5 and Lindholm’s offensive totals suffered as a result – and something to monitor in Calgary.


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My own expectation after the trade was enthusiastically positive heading to the Flames during the off season. Some concerns over player usage that may have dogged coach Peters in the recent past have abated somewhat. In his first season with the Calgary Flames, Lindholm is on the flank with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau – an upgrade over linemates during his tenure in Carolina and already a positive sign. His marker against the Predators featured a Johnny Gaudreau dangle through players and a clean zone entry, that ended with a pass across the slotline (royal road) and a quick flick for the third of the season. I’d bet that’s not the last time this occurs this season.


Add in three points in the first three games and the start to his Calgary tenure has exploded out of the gate. In 2017-18 he earned a point on 66.67% of on-ice goals, with 46% being primary points.


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Low to High Passing

Christopher Turturo is taking the microstats tabulated by tracking phenom, Corey Sznajder and created a Tableau visualization tool that offers more intricate context than simply goals, assists and shot generation.


The pages here contain Lindholm’s passing profile over 328 minutes tracked in 2017-18. Most commonly tracked pass was low-to-high. Below the NHL average here, the ability to play beneath the goal line is beneficial to generating good scoring chances and this is a distinct positive. Using the blinding ability of focused eyes below the line and creating options up front offers strategic applications – especially at even strength, off the cycle or even as part of puck retrievals in dump-ins.


There’s indeed improvement ability overall, and familiarity with Peters could be beneficial for at least early success of systems execution.


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In the McKeen’s Yearbook, I wrote this for Lindholm:


Creative, high tempo forward with nimble hands and playmaking vision .. dictates game tempo with the puck on his stick, works hard to retrieving it as a first instinct .. dangerous playmaker and a lethal shooter .. talented skater on a naturally-wide stance, light and dexterous with a quick startup .. agility allows him to improvise with twists, pivots, and spins, retaining solid control of the puck throughout, using his mid-sized body in tight quarters .. can exploit a quick release more often .. sustains speeds the length of the rink .. slick and elusive – a threat in controlled zone entries .. gains the inside edge attacking defenders feet, forcing them to pivot, creating outside space and quick plays .. responsible and structured, an excellent support option .. solid F1, a dogged forechecker who closes passing lanes with an active stick, and forces plays with his speed and tenacity .. brings a 'win-at-all-cost' intensity .. assertive and courageous - goes hard into corners and net-front .. talented and competitive, a dependable resource.


You’ll hear a lot about underrated players shining this season; Lindholm will be one of them – and if he has circumstances bounce his way, sticking on the top line/scoring unit, a 60-point season is very much in reach.

Gus Katsaros
Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey