There has been a lot of speculation that one of Sweden Hockey’s youngest stars would be joining the Philadelphia Flyers next season, and his head coach let it slip over the weekend.
Oskar Lindblom will be leaving Sweden and joining the Flyers after his fantastic season with Brynas IF. Lindblom has become a star for his Swedish squad, and he will be missed.
“It’s just a shame for Swedish hockey that we will not get to see him next season,” Brynas head coach Thomas Berglund said. Berglund has been impressed with the improvements he’s seen firsthand in Lindblom’s game.
What Berglund has seen in person, Ron Hextall has witnessed from afar. “Oskar has had a great year,” Hextall said. “He’s in a really good league and has come a long way since his draft year.”
Lindblom was a fifth round selection in the 2014 draft and is looking like a steal of a pick by Hextall. In the 2014-15 Lindblom played a minor role for Brynas in the bottom-six. He still managed to record 15 points (8 goals, 7 assists) in 37 games.
He has improved in the past two years immensely, however.
“I’ve never seen a player who has gone from strength to strength as he made during a season,” Berglund continued. And it hasn’t been minor adjustments, Lindblom has reached a new level. “He has not developed a step or two, but several steps. Both as a player and person.”
Lindblom recorded 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists) in 48 games last season before emerging as a star this season. He had a career high in goals (22), assists (25), points (47) and plus-minus (+16) in 52 games. Those were not only career-highs for Lindblom, but among the league-highs as well. In the SHL he was second in goals, eighth in assists, fourth in points and 16th in plus-minus.
Lindblom is only 20-years old, yet is one of the best players in one of the best leagues in the world. The Flyers had two rookies on their roster out of camp for this past season in Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, and the door is open for a few more next season. Hextall hopes Lindblom is one of them.
“I hope he’s here in September fighting for a spot along with a number of other guys,” Hextall said of the Swedish winger.
And there’s no reason he shouldn’t be. Lindblom has good size and great speed. He is hard to knock off the puck and seems to win puck battles that other players wouldn’t. He has the skill and size to play in the top-six and on the power play, but also the work ethic and grit to help out on a checking line or on the penalty kill.
Lindblom scored a goal in game one of the SHL Finals to continue his point per game pace in the playoffs. The series could end as soon as next week, meaning that Lindblom might be able to join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for their playoff run if they are still alive, and if Lindblom chooses to do so.
He played eight games with the Phantoms last spring, recording seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in eight games. He would be a welcomed addition to an already stellar lineup for Lehigh Valley.
On the other hand, Lindblom could join his National team for a tournament in May. It will be up to Lindblom and his council to decide on what steps to take this spring.
Nevertheless, the news out of Sweden may be a shame for Swedish hockey, as Berglund said, but it is very exciting for Flyers fans. Lindblom should be able to make the roster out of training camp and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was immediately slotted in the top six. He seems like a perfect candidate to play on Sean Couturier’s wing.
For now we’ll just have to enjoy watching Lindblom play in the SHL Finals while we Rally the Valley for the Phantoms’ playoff run.
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Sons of Penn Radio (January 23rd)
On this week of SOP Radio, we celebrate a thrilling overtime victory, discuss Dave Hakstol’s coaching decisions, and forecast potential trade opportunities and prospect development.