2021-22 Team: Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Birthdate: August 26, 2004
Birthplace: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Height: 6ft 0 Weight: 176 Pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 Year One Qualifying
The concept of what a man of defense can do has shifted drastically in the past few seasons, thanks in large part to the dominance of Cal Makar and Queen Hughes, as well as Miro Heiskanen and Rasmus Dahlin. A big slasher on the blue line patrolling his area like a ranger is a dead concept, and now, even the biggest defenders should be able to skate and move the disc better than most. According to an amateur scout who spoke to John Matisz of The Score, “We’ve come to realize that playing a D in the NHL is a much more intense center now. So you’re looking for guys who are better at moving pucks over the ice (and) on the bar. Gone are the days of drafting. High ‘stopper’, I think.
This is exactly how Mats Lindgren plays. The Kamloops Blazers are arguably one of the best skaters in the draft, using finely tuned edges to quickly change directions and avoid trouble, along with a smooth stride that makes his quick shifts in speed and direction seem effortless. He’s not the fastest skater, nor does he have the fastest acceleration, but once he’s got a disc, there’s little chance that anyone will outpace him. Honestly, it’s a pleasure watching him skate.
However, when it came to defending representatives of the Western Hockey League (WHL), the conversation was dominated by Kevin Korchynsky and Denton Matichuk. The two 17-year-olds scored at nearly a point-per-game average in their first full seasons of the WHL, were fourth and fifth in defensive scoring, and amazed scouts with their superb skateboarding and touring skills. They are committed to going early in the first round of the draft, with some rankings placing them in the top 10. Meanwhile, Lindgren, also aged 17, finished the season with five goals and 44 points in 68 matches; It’s by no means a bad season, but no one expected it from a modern, dynamic defensive man.
RELATED: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Lindgren’s biggest concern is his stability and overall impact on the game. The modern defending man needs a strong first pass to be considered effective, however Lindgren appears to be relying more on his teammates to do that and get the discus. Without a disc puck, he ranges from a decent defensive man able to fill in gaps quickly thanks to his brilliant skate, to a handicap on defense, failing to dash backwards to cover the opponent and creating one-on-one lunges and high-risk scoring opportunities. Matthew Soma of Smaht Scouting described it at its worst as if “…his console breaks off and drifts along until a goal is scored or his fellow puck is collected.”
However, these inconsistencies and errors may not be as harmful as they appear. Lindgren is a smaller defensive man at around 6 feet tall, with some sources reporting him as 5′ 11, and weighing 176 pounds. For comparison, Matechuk stands at the same height, but actually has 10 pounds. Adding strength will give him a major boost in his effectiveness in all areas of the ice and help him stand out from his peers.
Lindgren is also small; He won’t turn 18 until after the 2022 draft, making him one of the youngest players available. His game shows a maturity gap, sometimes lagging behind in transition. His work ethic will evolve as he becomes more comfortable in his role and as he transitions through the higher levels of hockey. Vision, intelligence, and instincts are a lot harder to teach, but he’s already proven he has those things in spades. His shot is fast, his grip is strong and tight, and he can make powerful and pure passes. He just needs to know when to use it most effectively.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Mats Lindgren – NHL Draft Draft
Lindgren is seeded somewhere in the second or third round, and he’s unlikely to skip those rounds very much. As mentioned earlier, the Scout sees so many inconsistencies in his game that they question how effective he is at the highest levels of competition. However, we may still be seeing the after-effects of the WHL season shortening the pandemic. Some traits are overestimated, while others are underestimated, and Lindgren might well be in the latter camp. Could it be Toby Nimella this year, relegated to the third round for the Toronto Maple Leafs? The Finnish defender is now one of the fastest rising prospects in the NHL, but in 2020, teams have seen a young player with limited offensive ability. The parallels are interesting, to say the least.
Mats Lindgren is a mobile defensive man with offensive flair. In the transition phase, Lindgren is an evasive and agile puck carrier, capable of quickly and skillfully overcoming opponents. In the attacking area, Lindgren facilitates the course. He moves and disc skates in dangerous areas, creating scoring opportunities. While he can get stuck in a defensive zone and isn’t the best at the heart of the game, Lindgren’s ability to escape pressure often keeps him far from the defensive end.With improvements to his game, Lindgren has the potential to be an exciting player among the The four best players in the NHL League”. – A.J. Gidaro, Dobber Prospects
“I go back and forth with whether or not I like Lindgren. He has the potential to become one of the smartest defensive players in this draft and could be a top four defender capable of around 40 points at the NHL level. I hope to see more consistency from Lindgren. At the same strength as that would alleviate some of my concerns about him as a player. I don’t doubt his hockey sense or his vision, but I doubt his consistency. If Lindgren falls to my team in the second half of the second round, I’m jumping on the chance to take it. The possibilities are too great to warrant selection, after all.” Matthew Soma, Smaht Scouting
“Lindgren isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing skater but he covers a lot of ice with his powerful strides and has dribbling to rock opponent defenders by pinching his stick. He controls the offensive blue line with a quick fake header and his cool edges allow him to break apart to open shooting or passing lanes. Defensively, he is aggressive In keeping time and space out of the dash and in covering the defensive zone, but can sometimes get caught taking bad angles.Lendgren seems to have the right idea about the two ends of the ice often, but needs to execute with more consistency, especially with the disc On his wand. His rise as one of the top four NHL defenders may not be as clear as some other defenders have predicted such as potential first-round picks in the 2022 draft, but I still think they are.” – Nick Richard, Horizons Dobber
Under construction (improvements to an action)
- Defensive positioning
At this point, it’s hard to know which version of Lindgren will emerge as he grows – will he become a 40-point playmaker from the blue streak, or will he be a one-trick pony fading into minors? Both outcomes seem possible, making it a risky choice, which hurt his ratings. But there is a possibility that it will thrive in a season or two, and it would be foolish to wait so long to seize such a dynamic offensive power.
Risk and reward analysis
Risk – 5/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy hockey odds
Offense – 7/10, defense – 5/10
Awards / Achievements
Lindgren was invited to the 2022 Top Prospects game and was on the victorious Team White, scoring a plus-1 and even winning a showdown. Back in 2020, he was part of the U-16 Youth Olympics with Team Canada, where he took the bronze.
Mats Lindgren stats
Interviews / links
Draft Pro – Scout Focus – Mats Lindgren
Dayton, an elementary day teacher and hockey enthusiast, joined Book Hockey in 2019 and currently covers Ottawa Senators, Juniors, and the NHL Entry Draft.