In spending a few days in Raleigh, former Canes defenseman Nic Wallin was able to chat with a couple of fellow Swedes: Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask.
In an interesting twist that speaks to the longevity of Wallin's hockey career, he said he once played with Lindholm's father, Mikael, and then later against Elias in the Swedish Elite league.
"When I was 18 I played with Mikael in Brynas," Wallin said. "He was a centerman who was a hard-nosed player. After playing here in the NHL, I went back and Elias was playing for Brynas, my old team."
Lindholm, 20, was the Canes first-round pick in 2013 and the fifth overall selection of the NHL draft. After an inconsistent rookie season, the forward has 15 goals and 19 assists in 69 games and has been solid defensively in his second NHL season.
"Last year it was about learning for him," Wallin said. "It's faster in the NHL and smaller ice. Guys are bigger. But he's a smart player. You can see him turning and taking the hit and taking advantage of the hit. Last year he had the shoulder injury and he figured that out, too.
"I really liked him the last couple of years, seeing him play (for Sweden) in the World Junior Championship."
Who's better, father or son?
"He's already better than Mikael," Wallin said, smiling. "The game is different, too."
Rask, a second-round pick by Carolina in 2011, was thrust into a major role this season for the Canes when center Jordan Staal suffered a broken leg in preseason but has handled it well.
"Victor is not a surprise," Wallin said. "He wasn't like Elias, being picked near the top of the draft, but I'm impressed with him. They took a chance when Jordan got hurt and he got a lot of ice time and he's playing well.
"They're both young. Give them three or four years and they'll be leaders and superstars in the league."
Wallin was a member of Carolina's 2006 Stanley Cup champions and one of the Canes' more popular players. Traded to San Jose in February 2010, he spent two years with the Sharks before going back to Sweden, where he signed with Lulea HF and played before retiring in 2012.
Wallin also has been able to keep an eye on another Canes draft pick -- center Lucas Wallmark, who was taken in the fourth round in 2014 and plays for Lulea.
"He's a young kid and I think the skating part has to get better," Wallin said. "But he's young and he's got time to work on that. He had a pretty good (2015) World Junior championship. He's a good player, a good passer."
Lindholm said it was a "big deal" in Sweden when Wallin returned from the NHL to play in the Swedish Elite League. Wallin was in Raleigh the past few days to participate in the Canes' Alumni Game and caught up with Lindholm.
While nice to have that Swedish connection, Lindholm laughed when asked if he and Wallin ever collided on the ice. "I think I tried to stay away from his corner," he said.