The Detroit Red Wings are undoubtedly pleased that 23-year-old Gustav Lindstrom has earned his place as a regular on their defense.
But what may please them more is Lindstrom is showing that he has the potential to be a long-term answer. Even after Simon Edvinsson arrives, and Eemil Viro or William Wallinder, earn their place, Lindstrom should have a role.
“I think ultimately, if you were dealt a perfect D corps you’d be tall and long,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “You might have one power play (guy) who’s a little bit smaller but you’d be tall and long. That’s what the best D corps are. (Lindstrom’s) got that, he’s got physicality to him where he can be hard.”
Lindstrom Knows Uses His Size
Lindstrom is 6-foot-2. He’s second on the team in blocked shots (55) and boasts 36 hits in 40 games. He doesn’t look for big wallops but he’s learning the value of disrupting offensive rushes with a well-timed heavy check.
“If you get a good chance to hit someone, you obviously take it,” Lindstrom said. “But I’m not out there to look for the big hits, I’m just trying to stop the plays.”
Gustav Lindstrom's first NHL goal had eyes! 👀 pic.twitter.com/ejyyU8yoIt
— NHL (@NHL) February 15, 2022
Offense is the most underrated element of Lindstrom’s game. He netted his first NHL goal against Minnesota on Feb. 14. He has 10 points this season. He’s never going to be Nicklas Lidstrom. But he can contribute offensively.
“It’s not like he’s only a guy who goes out there and defends,” Blashill said. “He can pass it well. I think the area that he’s got to keep improving is his footwork to become a really good defender. If he does that, I think he solidifies himself even more.”
Playing time is the best indicator of the trust the coaching staff has in a defender. Since Jan. 4, Lindstrom’s playing time is steadily in the 17-18 minute range. Earlier in the season, his playing was more up and down. Lindstrom looks more confident.
Plays it Safe
“He’s not a high risk player,” Blashill said. “He’s a guy who can again make a good first pass and get you out of your zone. I thought he needed to improve his strength and his feet and he’s done that. I think there’s still improvement there to continue to build that type of trust. He doesn’t get the extremely hard matchups yet, so we’re not to that level yet. But I think if he can continue to improve in those areas, he can be that. He’s a big guy who’s got good hockey sense, who’s hard, who’s got good reach.”
Lindstrom seems to have a good understanding of how he needs to play to be effective. He knew there was inconsistency in his game earlier in the season.
“The first 20 games it was a little up and down. ” Lindstrom said. “I felt like I could have played better. I felt better lately, like the last 15-20 games. It’s getting better.”
Lindstrom is a right-shot defenseman and fellow Swede Wallinder (Drafted 32nd in 2020) is a 6-foot-4 left-shot D Man. He is more offensive minded. Maybe they could end up a pairing. Perhaps left-shot Donovan Sebrango (Grand Rapids Griffins) and Lindstrom could someday end up as a shutdown pairing.
Because the Red Wings are rebuilding, they are looking ahead as well as playing this season.
“(I) just try to play a simple game, move the puck quick to the forwards and make it easy for them,” Lindstrom said. “I’ve been that same player my whole career. I try to move the puck quickly and play good defensively. Then I try to get better in the O-zone to create more chances.”