Swedish Olympian to sign with the Toronto Maple LeafsA MAPLE LEAF. Pär Lindholm will play for the Toronto Maple Leafs next season, according to Uffe Bodin. Photo: Bildbyrån/Petter Arvidson
At 26 years of age, he’s not by any means a prospect anymore. But Pär Lindholm is a late-bloomer who has had two seasons of great progress with Skellefteå AIK in Sweden. After finishing fourth in the SHL scoring race this season, as well as representing the Swedish Olympic team in South Korea, the two-way center will now get a shot at the NHL.
According to our sources, more than 20 of the 31 teams in the NHL showed interest in the Swede. But, as Christopher Lambert once taught us in Highlander, “there can be only one”.
That one team appears to be the Toronto Maple Leafs. Our sources tell us that Lindholm has decided to sign with the Leafs in an attempt to take one of the center spots that will likely be available this summer when Tyler Bozak, Tomas Plekanec and Dominic Moore become unrestricted free agents.
Pär Lindholm spent several seasons in Hockeyallsvenskan, the league underneath the SHL. In 2014, he had his big breakthrough with Karlskrona, putting up 42 points in 52 games. That got him a ticket back to Skellefteå, where he had played during his junior career.
Last season, he more than doubled his production in the SHL, going from 15 to 31 points even though playing in only 38 games. He found great chemistry with linemates Oscar Möller and Joakim Lindström, two former NHL forwards. The trio was even more effective this season, amassing 139 points together during the 52 game regular season, and also playing together as a unit for Sweden during the Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Lindholm is known to be a smart and responsible center who can play pretty much anywhere up and down the line-up. He’s been effective as a bottom-six center at times and during the last two years, he’s been one of the better top centers in the Swedish league.
It remains to be seen if he can take that next step and be a player for the Toronto Maple Leafs as well.