In the Swedish Hockey League last season, Oskar Lindblom had one of the most historical years ever seen. As a 20 year old, playing against men and former NHLers, he scored 47 points in 52 games.
The last time a 20 year old scored that many points, according to The Athletic and Sons of Penn’s Alexander Appleyard, was by Henrik Zetterberg in 2000-01. Zetterberg has gone on to score over 900 points in the NHL and win a Stanley Cup.
Who knows if Lindblom will do that much, but for a fifth-round pick in 2014, his potential has certainly rocketed up.
At the time of the draft, Lindblom’s skating issues scared most teams so much so, that before June 2014, he was considered a possible first-round pick. He ended up falling heavily to the fifth round where Philly took him.
Today, his skating is a non-issue and his physical play and board work has most confident that he can translate his European game to the tougher North American game that’s played on a smaller ice.
As for his stats, Lindblom played eight games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the end of the 2015-16 season and recorded seven points. There was a chance he could have joined the team again last season, but his Swedish team, Brynas IF, went deep in the SHL playoffs and he represented Sweden at the Euro Hockey Tour.
As a rookie, Lindblom will have to prove he belongs in the NHL. Most think that won’t be an issue, but he’ll still have to beat out a number of veterans for playing time in the top nine.
I’m planning on doing an all-inclusive post of a season preview with the fringe players and rookies that may not make the roster after I reach the end of the individual previews. I considered including Lindblom with that group, but I’m confident that the Swede will be in the opening night lineup.
In the rookie game Wednesday night, Lindblom was one of the best players on the ice and played a typical “professional” game with and without the puck. That was evident from Flyers fans on Twitter:
Assuming Lindblom makes the team it’s hard to judge where and who he plays with. There’s a lot of dominoes that still need to fall and there’s sure to be shuffling as the season goes along.
But we can be sure that Lindblom is in the top nine. I also believe he’ll take Brayden Schenn’s vacant spot on the first power play unit.
Travis Konecny, the latest premier Flyer rookie forward, scored 28 points in 70 games. Him and Lindblom do not play a similar game, but it’s clear to see that scoring isn’t the easiest when you’re a rookie in the NHL.
Still, Lindblom will probably see more power play time and is 21 years old, instead of the 19 that Konecny was last season. If Lindblom plays a full season, 35 points seems like a fair assessment.