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2022 NHL Draft prospect profile: Mats Lindgren, offensive defenceman

Mats Lindgren is one of the flashiest offensive defensemen in the entire CHL.

2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

Son of former NHL centre Mats Lindgren, the younger Mats Lindgren was born in British Columbia while his father was playing for the Vancouver Canucks. Perhaps having a parent who was an NHL forward is what inspired him to try to bring as much offence as he possibly can from a defensive position.

Birthplace: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Date of birth: August 26, 2004
Shoots: Left
Position: Defence
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 176 lbs.
Team: Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Playing minor hockey in Burnaby, Lindgren was selected seventh overall by the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL Bantam Draft. He was originally committed to the University of Michigan, but changed his mind and signed with the Blazers after they gave him their pitch. He has progressed well with Kamloops, and has amassed 54 points over 90 games in the last two seasons.

Elite Prospects

The Blazers made it all the way to the WHL semifinals this year, and were recently eliminated by the Seattle Thunderbirds, setting Lindgren’s focus now toward the NHL Draft. He is expected to be selected within the first three rounds in July, though not likely as high as his father who was a 15th overall pick of the Winnipeg Jets.

Strengths

He doesn’t have blazing speed, but the finer points of his skating enable him to embarrass opponents at the Junior level as they sprawl to try to stop him. He’s very deceptive with his skating, and convinces plenty of checkers that he’s headed one way before darting in another direction. He combines that skating with good puck-handling skills and the use of his long reach to protect the puck. It makes for some highlight-reel rushes.

His favourite move is the spin-o-rama, at which he is quite accomplished. When faced with pressure, he pivots and turns away, using quick cross-overs to generate speed on the way out and give himself a better skating lane. Take a look at the highlight video below, which you’re sure to enjoy if you’re a fan of the move.

His anticipation and vision from the offensive blue line are also impressive. He loves to pinch, and reads the play well when coming down from the blue line to break up attempted zone exits. With the puck on his stick, he uses that shifty skating to shake off opposing players, and can exploit the open passing lanes he creates.

Weaknesses

As electrifying as he can be with the puck, the main concerns are with his defensive positioning and engagement. He has a tendency to completely empty his gas tank going for rushes, then looks exhausted coming back on defence. He either needs to pick his spots a little better, or significantly improve his conditioning.

He looks uninterested in even playing defence at times, and much prefers taking the puck up ice and joining the rush. This is an issue at times when breaking out of his zone, as he is more likely to try to execute his spin-o-rama than look for teammates and keep things simple. It makes for fun highlights, but it can also be costly when it doesn’t work.

Mitch Brown’s tracking project

Mitch Brown’s tracking project gives us a clear picture of a player who doesn’t make a great first pass, and instead looks to carry the puck out a lot. While he can put on a show getting out and in the neutral zone, his entry success rate leaves something to be desired. He needs to get better at using his teammates on both exits and entries instead of trying to play hero puck.

Rankings

Dobber Prospects: #31
Elite Prospects: #82
FCHockey: #75
Hockey Prospect: #44
McKeen’s: #28
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #46
NHL Central Scouting: #47 (North American skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #41
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #37

In all likelihood, we’re talking about a late second-round pick to get Lindgren in your prospect pool, unless there is a team that decides to reach for him earlier in the round. It is hard not to be enticed by his skating and puck-handling skills, but I don’t think that a reach would be a good idea given the legitimate concerns over his defensive play.

He can do some very impressive things with the puck, but you have to ask yourself if a defenceman who needs serious improvement in the defensive zone is worth the investment of such a high pick. There will likely be more well-rounded defencemen on the board at that time, though not with the flash that Lindgren brings.

That being said, on some lists he falls into the third round, where the Montreal Canadiens hold three picks. I have and will continue to argue that the Habs can afford to swing for the fences with at least one of those picks, and Lindgren would fit as such a boom-or-bust selection.

I think he has a good chance of getting all the way to the NHL level, but how good he can be once he gets there will depend on whether he can improve his defensive game.