"I rate him very high:" An interview with Djurgårdens goalie coach Fredrik Mikko on Carl Lindbom's season
(Editor's note: The following is a guest post by Simon Eld on HockeySverige that has been translated for EP Rinkside. You can read the original article in Swedish by following this link)
Vegas Golden Knights prospect Carl Lindbom is having himself one hell of a season. It doesn't seem to matter whether he's playing with Djurgårdens in the HockeyAllsvenskan or wearing the Tre Kronor for Sweden at the World Juniors – he's been full value.
All of Lindbom's work culminated in a goal two weeks ago in a 5-1 win over Djurgårdens' rivals, AIK. It was a fitting end to a game that started with a ceremony to award the 6-foot-1 goaltender with the “Guldgallret,” a trophy given to the best junior player in HockeyAllsvenskan. It's a prestigious award that players like Filip Forsberg, William Karlsson, and Samuel Ersson have won before.
“I’ve never scored before,” Lindbom told HockeySverige. “It was such a bad shot that I didn’t expect it to go in.”
“I was quite lucky there,” he told HockeySverige's Martin Jansson after the game.
It wasn’t just a special goal for Lindbom. It was a special night for the goalie coach, Fredrik Mikko, as well.
“It was a good day at work. It can’t get any better. I’ve worked as a goalie coach for 32 years and this was the first time one of my goals score. I’ve been waiting for this for a while,” Mikko said.
He said that he had a good feeling before the game. My first question when is always: How does it feel?
“That you are focused and positive, and become friends with the puck from the warm-up in the morning to the warm-up before the game." Lindbom thought he had one of those days. He said this morning when we went through the game, that he “had a good feeling. Maybe a little better than usual."
Djurgården has won more championships than any other team in Sweden, but after a chaotic last season, they got relegated to the Swedish second tier. Lindbom has had himself an MVP-calibre season for the 16-time champion, winning 22 of 33 games, saving .928 percent of the shots and posting a GAA of 1.96.
“He’s had a great season. He’s had a very high minimum level. He had a short down period right after the World Juniors, and we actually talked a bit about that. It’s easy to get mentally tired after that tournament,” Mikko said. “It’s something you have worked for during your entire career and a big goal during the season. I think he got affected by the fact that he played a bit different on the smaller rink, and that he brought that game home as well. He was a bit off in his timing when he came back.”
Mikko has worked with some of the best goalies in Sweden during his three decades in the business, and he rates Lindbom as one of the best.
“I rate him very high. I had Anders Nilsson when he was at the same age and played in the World Juniors. I had Marcus Högberg in Linköping when he was the same age. And yeah, I rate him (Lindbom) very high,” Mikko said. “He’s also very mature for his age, in his decision-making and his exactness. He doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. I don’t have to use the ‘whip’ to make him do more, absolutely not. The only one that is going to set the boundaries is himself.”
“He reads the game very well. His physique makes him very quick and quick to react. He has an advantage in his physique and his hockey IQ.”
Even though Carl Lindbom has always been one of the best Swedish goaltenders born in 2003, he wasn’t drafted until the seventh round (222nd overall) at the 2021 draft. He got selected as the 21st and last goalie by Vegas. A pick that quickly has turned into a potential steal.
“I haven’t spoken to Vegas myself, but I can understand that they are impressed with what he has done this season and that they are happy to have him," Mikko said of his pupil. "But I think it would be good for him to stay another season (in Sweden). I really think you should outgrow the level you play in before you go over to North America.”
“If you should go over, it’s probably to learn how to play on the smaller rink. But a lot of goalies go over because they got their contract and figure that it might be their only opportunity. I think the bigger talents could play it a bit cooler, instead of coming home with their tail between their legs. When is the right time to go over? There isn’t an easy answer to that. And I haven’t spoken to him about this.”
Mikko believes that the now 19-year-old goalie is a future NHL goalie.
“I absolutely think that he could get there. He has a lot of the qualities you need to have. But you have to remember that it’s a lot of politics and coincidences and that you need to become trusted. You can't control everything yourself. So, there are a lot of aspects surrounding this. But I think he has the capacity.”
Mikko thinks Vegas is the right place for Lindbom.
“I think that’s a good organization for him. I’ve seen their games and their training camps and they have a lot of good goalies. You need to outperform a lot of good goalies to get the chance.”