(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

Hampus Lindholm hasn’t found his name on the scoresheet too often this season for the Boston Bruins. In Boston’s first 43 games of the 2023-24 season, the veteran blueliner has only lit the lamp once. Lindholm has gone 28 straight games without finding the back of the net, compiling just eleven assists in that span.

Those numbers would suffice for any serviceable National Hockey League defenseman, but that’s not what the Bruins signed up for when they inked Lindholm to an eight-year, $52 million contract in March of 2022. Lindholm posted a career-best line of 10-43-53 in 80 games last season with Boston, setting a lofty offensive standard for the now 29-year-old to keep up this season. Even though points have been hard to come by for Lindholm, that’s not to say his impact hasn’t been felt. Lindholm’s defense-first mindset has been a game-changer on the Boston backend.

Lindholm has been the picture-perfect 200-foot defenseman this season. Leading all of Boston’s defensive core with 43 games played and 1,031 total minutes, Lindholm’s biggest strength this season has been availability and durability. His 23:59 average time on ice is tied for a career-high in his eleven-year career, skating meaningful minutes alongside partners Brandon Carlo and Parker Wotherspoon for most of the season. According to Money Puck, he also leads all Boston defensemen in takeaways with 14.

And while Lindholm has struggled to find the back of the net, he’s still making decisions in the offensive zone that are leading to goals. His 14 assists is second-most on the team behind Charlie McAvoy’s 23. In Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on January 9th, Lindholm pieced together one of his better all-around games of the season. Not only did he collect an assist, but his defensive presence was felt all night.

Lindholm’s assist came on a crucial power play opportunity in the third period, picking his head up to find an all-alone Jake DeBrusk, who collected the feed before sending a laser into the back of the goal. As Lindholm is enduring offensive hardships, it can be easy for a player to start pressing and overcomplicating situations where he has the puck. Lindholm instead made the right play without hesitation, ultimately leading to a goal for the Black and Gold.

It’s easy to criticize Lindholm for his slow offensive start to the season, but his strengths are the ones that don’t appear on the stat sheet. He backchecks, picks up players in front of the net, and does all the little things that keep the opposing puck out of Boston’s net. And while he’s not what Don Sweeney and the Bruins expected him to be this season, he’s delivering on every penny of his $52 million contract.