Flyers or Phantoms for Lindblom in 2017-18?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Lindblom much improved since last stint in North America

Written by: Alexander Appleyard - Twitter

Those who follow the Lehigh Valley Phantoms closely will already be somewhat familiar with Oskar Lindblom. After all, just 14 months ago the young Swedish winger made his way across the pond to suit up in eight games for Lehigh Valley as their 2015-16 campaign wound down.

It was a brief window for fans in North America to see the Flyers prospect up close, and he did not come up lacking. He hit the ground running on the smaller ice and provided seven points through eight games in the AHL. What was more impressive than just the production was his overall play in all three zones. It really did seem like the cliché thrown around since he was drafted - that his game would ‘suit smaller ice’ - rang true.

If that whet the appetite of fans at the PPL Center, they might just be in for a treat at the start of the 2017-18 season as with Lindblom signing his ELC with the Flyers this week it is well within the realms of possibility he could be plying his trade in Allentown in the not so distant future.

It is no guarantee though. Lindblom proved himself to be one of the best players in Sweden’s top tier, the SHL, over the past season - finishing fourth in the points race, second in the scoring race and being named the league’s best forward. The SHL is a similar level league to the AHL, and it is therefore envisionable that the Gävle native makes the jump to the NHL straight out of training camp this fall.

However, with the logjam of forwards at the Flyers disposal if Lindblom has a middling camp he may find himself on the bus ride north. Flyers fans might be disappointed in such a scenario, but for the Phantoms it would be an enormous coup. The powerful winger has excelled at every level he has ever played at, and made his senior international debut for Sweden this year. He would surely be one of the better forwards in the AHL right off the bat.

Phantoms fans probably have a decent idea about his game already from his previous brief AHL stint. You will have seen the grit, the board work, the relentless fore-checking and the drive to get to the net. Lindblom does possess all of those qualities, but over the course of the last year further physical maturity has allowed his finer skills to flourish more frequently at a high level.

The flashes were always there.

Subtle passes, dangles through traffic and sniped shots.

With extra weight on his 6’2 frame and an extra jump in his stride, Lindblom managed to consistently dazzle on not just a game-by-game basis, but on a shift-by-shift basis. Consistency became one of his hallmarks. 

Lindblom himself spoke over the season of aspiring for a ‘minimum level’ of play that was still high. He certainly achieved it. He played 75 games over the course of the season for both his hometown club Brynäs and the Swedish national team. You could watch each game back and struggle to count the bad shifts on one hand, let alone games.

All-in-all, Lindblom has become a better, more complete player since the last time he suited up for the Phantoms - faster, stronger, more confident and more than adept in every zone. He has developed almost a ‘swagger’ to his game. Don’t take that the wrong way - the young man is humble and an ultimate team player – but he knows he is good, and knows that he has an extensive arsenal of weapons to undress defenders, beat goalies clean and dominate board and net-front battles. Taking over shifts is now second nature to him.

If Lindblom is in Allentown come October? Well, the rest of the AHL might be getting some sleepless nights.

Edited by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook


perttu junnonaho said...

He must make the Flyers out of training camp, cause Lindblom is too good for the Phantoms. One other thing i must say, is that we must try really hard to trade Scott Laughton to Detroit for their skilled power forward Givani Smith, who will hopefully become our next Wayne Simmonds! And otherwise we loose Laughton to Vegas for free!

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