When the Anaheim Ducks drafted Hampus Lindholm sixth overall in 2012, it was somewhat surprising in the sense that NHL Central Scouting had him ranked behind three European skaters — Filip Forsberg, Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Collberg — and the young defenseman from Sweden was taken before all three of them.
Heck, even Lindholm was surprised. “It’s like, whoa, so early,” he said at the time.
Safe to say, the pick has turned out all right for the Ducks. Lindholm has been excellent in these playoffs, paired with veteran Francois Beauchemin, who believes the 21-year-old has the ability to become one of the elite blue-liners in the NHL.
“He certainly does have the potential of becoming that type of defenseman,” Beauchemin said, per ESPN.com. “In five years from now, I’m sure Hampus will be if everything goes well and he keeps improving, obviously he’s got the capability of becoming [among] the top defensemen in the league.”
Lindholm isn’t quite in the elite category yet. He doesn’t play huge minutes like Duncan Keith or Drew Doughty. But for a franchise that won its only Stanley Cup with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer patrolling the back end, and for a GM, Bob Murray, who’s been searching for “that guy” ever since those two moved on, Lindholm is clearly being groomed for big things.
Oh, and Lindholm isn’t the only talented young blue-liner in Anaheim. There’s also Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, and Simon Despres, all three just 23 years old.
Trade-deadline acquisition James Wisniewski will be a healthy scratch for the Anaheim Ducks when they open their first-round series tonight at home versus Winnipeg.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau explained his decision to park the veteran defenseman in the press box and go with a pairing of Clayton Stoner and Sami Vatanen instead.
“They have been teamed up all year,” said Boudreau. “Sami seems to play his best with Clayton, and now Clayton’s fully healthy, so I don’t see why he would lose his position. … I think those two have made a great pair together all year.”
The Ducks’ other defensive pairings are expected to be Hampus Lindholm with Francois Beauchemin and Cam Fowler with Simon Despres.
Vermette healthy scratched in Chicago. Wisniewski healthy scratched in Anaheim. Santorelli healthy scratched in Nashville. Trade deadline!
Now, is he sending another message to another defenseman?
James Wisniewski, the Ducks’ big trade deadline acquisition, will be scratched tonight when Anaheim takes on Boston at TD Garden. The decision comes with Wisniewsky having played in just eight games for the Ducks, registering no goals, three assists and a minus-4 rating while averaging 20:38 TOI.
The 31-year-old is coming off his heaviest workload since joining the team, however. In the aforementioned loss to his old Blue Jackets squad, Wisniewski played 22:54 and led all Ducks d-men with 4:33 of power play time. That could be part of the reason why he’s out tonight; Boudreau also has defensemen at his disposal and enough healthy bodies to do some lineup tinkering. Simon Despres drew back in for the Columbus game, Korbinian Holzer has yet to make his Ducks debut and the club could always call on rookie d-man Josh Manson, who’s currently with AHL Norfolk but has looked good at times this season.
That said, it’s hard not to look at this healthy scratch as Boudreau sending a message, especially after what Fowler had to say about Tuesday’s scratch.
“With the luxury that we have with eight premium NHL defensemen, sometimes something like this is going to happen,” Folwer explained, per the O.C. Register. “It’s on the individual. It’s on myself. It’s because of my play recently. As hard as it is to say, it’s just the honest truth.
“So when you have guys that can step in any given night, you have to make sure that you bring your ‘A’ game or else something like this can happen. It’s a bit of a wake-up call for sure.”