The expectations Carolina has for Elias Lindholm are high.
On Monday, ‘Canes GM Jim Rutherford said he’d be “shocked” if Lindholm — Carolina’s first-round pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, fifth overall — didn’t make the club to start the 2013-14 season.
“The biggest thing I see is that he plays the game at a high tempo,” Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer. “To come into the National Hockey League and play at the pace these guys play at, that’s very important and makes it that much easier.
“The opportunity is there to start with the Hurricanes. I would be shocked if he doesn’t based on all the reports and what I’ve seen.”
Lindholm, 18, prefers to play center but can play either wing. That versatility will serve him well in trying to make the team, as Carolina currently only has 10 forwards (Lindholm is No. 11) under contract for next season.
RFA Jared Staal is still unsigned, and it looks like veterans Chad LaRose and Tim Brent won’t be back.
Surely, some of the expectations for Lindholm come from being the highest forward Carolina has drafted since Jeff Skinner in 2010.
The ‘Canes went defense in the first round of 2011 (with Ryan Murphy) and gave up their first-round pick in 2012 in the Jordan Staal trade with Pittsburgh.
As for other prospects up front?
Outside of Lindholm, the club does have fellow Swedish forward Victor Rask in the mix — he appeared in 10 games with AHL Charlotte last season — and forward Brock McGinn, the younger brother of Colorado’s Jamie McGinn and Philadelphia’s Tye McGinn.