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Checking Out Joakim Lindström

I know that Andidee put up a previous post about Lindström, giving us a glimpse at his numbers and some video highlights of him in action. However, I felt it couldn't hurt to have a more in-depth look at the guy and the things he's accomplished as he enters his tenure with the Avs.

Joakim Lindström (6'0", 187 lbs) was born in Skellefteå, Sweden, on December 5, 1983. His first major appearance on the hockey scene came with MoDo's junior team in Sweden in the 1999-2000 season. He scored 6 goals and added 14 assists for 20 points in 17 games. He also spent some time with the Malmö Redhawks junior team (Malmö, Sweden), registering 8 points in 10 games. Lindström played an additional 24 games with the Redhawks over the next three years; during that time, he scored at a pace of nearly two points per game (21g/21a). In the 2000-2001 season, he was called up to play with MoDo's senior team. He ended up playing 133 games with them over 5 years; unfortunately, he wasn't quite as successful as he was in Malmö, scoring only 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points. The fact that he started with MoDo as a 17-year-old and spent most of his time on the 3rd and 4th lines certainly contributed to his low numbers.

When Lindström was called up to play with MoDo's big club, he hit the radar of scouts across the NHL. He also played in the World Junior Championship Under 18 tournament that year (2g, 5a in 6 games) and represented Sweden in the World Championships the following year (2g, 3a in 6 games). His strong performances helped solidify his place as a top prospect among the European players.

The various scouting reports were pretty uniform. Lindström was considered to be a versatile forward who could play all three positions. They said he was creative and had great on-ice vision. His strengths could be found in his ability to generate plays from turn-overs, using an instinctive sense to set up scoring opportunities with crisp outlet passes. Although he wasn't afraid to use his body in a more physical style of play, there was a general consensus that he needed to bulk up and work on his defensive skills. Most scouts felt he would be a reliable 20-goal scorer in the NHL.

The Columbus  Blue Jackets seemed to agree with that assessment as they drafted him in the 2nd round (41st overall) in 2002. At the end of the 2004-2005 season, he made his North American debut, playing for the BJ's AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. That appearance didn't come without a price, however. Lindström first applied to the Swedish Hockey Federation for clearance to play for the Crunch before the 2004 season. They denied his application. After completing that season with MoDo, he applied once again. Once again, the federation said no. Lindström decided that he needed to play in North America if he was ever to reach his goal of playing in the NHL, so he left Sweden and played with the Crunch without permission. As a result, the Swede received a 26-game suspension. This wasn't a problem, though, as he spent the next 5 years splitting his time between the NHL and AHL.

Lindström's time in North America was anything but steady. In the four seasons with Syracuse, he played 176 games and tallied 65 goals and 94 assists for 159 points. He was often considered the most consistent forward on an otherwise weak team. He logged big minutes and, in 2006-2007, led the Crunch in scoring with 22g/26a/48pts in the 50 games he played that season. He was also called up to play with Columbus for 81 games over that time. His production was mediocre (13g/15a/28pts), and on July 15, 2008, he found himself as part of a trade with Anaheim for a conditional draft pick. Three months later, he was claimed off waivers by the Blackhawks - only to be reclaimed by the Ducks four days after that. The Ducks immediately assigned him to their AHL team, the Iowa Chops for the 2008-2009 season.

Lindström only managed to get in 21 games with the Chops (7g/14a/21pts) before being traded to the Coyotes for Logan Stephenson on December 3, 2008. He made his debut with Phoenix a week later in a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars. The forward finished that season with the Coyotes (apart from 3 games with the San Antonio Rampage, 1g/1a/2pts). Despite putting up decent numbers in the 44 games he played in Phoenix (9g/11a/20pts), he was not re-signed. Without any offers coming in, Lindström returned to Europe.

Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the KHL gave him a one-year contract for the 2009-2010 season. He ended up leading the Torpedos both in scoring with 30 points, as well as assists with 20. Lindström returned to the Swedish Elite League for the 2010-2011 season and dominated. His 60 points (28g/32a/54 games) were tops in the SEL and helped Skellefteå AIK take the silver medal in the playoffs. Unsurprisingly, the forward was named to the All Star team last season.

On June 15, 2011, the Avalanche signed Lindström to a one year, one way, $600,000 contract for the 2011-2012 season. The Swedish forward clearly can put up points in professional hockey. The question is whether he can take his SEL, KHL and AHL success and transfer that to the NHL. Thus far, it's been slow-going. However, given the right opportunity, he may live up to - or even exceed - the projections of being a 20-25 goal scorer. Perhaps Colorado is where it will happen.