How Par Lindholm became a late-blooming Bruins contributor

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

Ideally it wouldn’t have taken him until his fifth game with the Bruins, and Boston’s ninth game, for Pär Lindholm to score his first goal.

But late bloomers are going to do what they do, and so Lindholm’s insurance goal in the third period of the Bruins’ 4-2 win against Toronto on Tuesday was his introduction to the scoresheet in 2019-20.

Out of the box and off to the races.@kurals9 | @parlindholm pic.twitter.com/E9dSJ4J7rZ

— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 23, 2019

Lindholm, who turned 28 last week, didn’t make the leap to the Swedish Hockey League until he turned 24 and didn’t come to North America to play in the NHL until last season.

“I think I had kind of a slow start to my career,” Lindholm recently told WEEI.com. “I mean the last four years that were in Sweden I developed year after year, and the last two years were really good. Before that I didn’t have a chance. Like after the third year I felt like it was a good environment for me to stay back in Sweden and develop even more, and kind of felt ready after the fourth year.”

As recently as 2013, Lindholm didn’t think he’d be playing hockey for a living by the time he was the age he is now.

“No like I played in the Swedish third league seven years ago, and I was around like 20, 21. Back then and there I didn’t think I was going to play hockey for a lot of more years, especially at this high a level,” Lindholm said.

Lindholm stuck with hockey because he found it “fun” and he figured he’d always play, even if he had a day job. He considered going back to school to study to figure out what he wanted to do for work. Life on his family’s farm, which has since been sold, didn’t appeal to him, although he helped out plenty growing up. His hometown of Skellefteå is known as “Gold Town” because of its mining industry, and it will soon be home to Europe’s first home-grown gigafactory for lithium-ion battery cells, Northvolt Ett. The latter might’ve appealed to a less determined Lindholm, but instead he kept plugging away hockey and improving.

“I’ve always liked Pär’s smartness on the ice,” said Swedish national team coach Rikard Grönborg, who coached Lindholm on Team Sweden at the 2018 Olympics “He always put himself in a position where he is either available to receive a pass and help his teammates out with smart plays with or without the puck. He is also a fierce competitor when put in those situations.”

Come 2017-18 in the SHL, Lindholm found himself on a line with former NHLers Joakim Lindström and Oscar Möller. The trio became one of the most productive lines in hockey, combining for 139 points. Lindholm had 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists) in 49 games.

Toronto signed Lindholm as a free agent in the summer of 2018, but things didn’t work out even after he had one goal and 11 assists in 61 games as a fourth liner. He was shipped to Winnipeg, which only played him in four games.

He didn’t exactly build up a resume ahead of this past July 1, but the Bruins were among several teams interested and ideally he decided the place to go was Boston because of their ability to win and their treatment of players that fill a bottom-six role.

General manager Don Sweeney said the Bruins were aware of Lindholm prior to the 2019 free agency period, but timing is everything and the Bruins had a crowded bottom six the year before. This year there was more opportunity to fill that type of role, and the Bruins believed Lindholm could come in and do more than just penalty kill and play a third- or fourth-line role, much the way they’ve used Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner this season and last.

“The conversation with Par was ‘yes, I have done that, but I might not be able to do that.’ If I’m put in in some situations – and Butch [coach Bruce Cassidy> has talked about being able to complement those better players, he’s got some skills to be able to do it – whether or not he can be consistent … he’s been a scorer,” Sweeney said.

The scoring hasn’t come as much yet, but Lindholm has helped make up for the injury loss of David Krejci in the middle of the ice, and given the Bruins another option for a left-shooting penalty killer. At $850,000 per season on a two-year deal, Lindholm is the type of player that could give the Bruins bang for their buck and allow for some semblance of cap flexibility when it comes to retaining higher-end skill players and also possibly acquiring some to improve the team via trade.

The mines and battery factories of Skellefteå may be beckoning, but Lindholm’s only plans are to help the Bruins capture the Stanley Cup.

“Like I’m here to play and win and it makes it so much more fun if you get to play on a team like that,” Lindholm said. “Both Toronto and Winnipeg were good teams, so I’d rather play for a good team and when Boston called me I was really happy.”