Oskar Lindblom is playing in his first pro season for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Coming over from the SHL, it was likely going to be an adjustment to the size of the ice and the pace of play. As of late, Lindblom looks like he has been able to make that adjustment.
Before the season started, Lindblom was ranked as LWOH’s Number 5 prospect in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. He was predicted to make the Flyers roster out of camp. Instead, he was sent down to the American Hockey League to start his season.
“It was tough in the beginning, of course,” Lindblom said earlier in the season. “It was the first time I got sent down. Because it was my first camp I haven’t really felt that feeling yet in my career. It’s a good experience.”
Flashback to Saturday and Oskar Lindblom's ridiculous shorthanded goal. pic.twitter.com/V6y2bXmyPl
— Bob Rotruck (@BobRotruck) January 29, 2018
Oskar Lindblom Looks Ready For The NHL
While this season is Lindblom’s rookie year, it is not his first with the Phantoms. After his SHL team was eliminated last season, Lindblom spent eight games with the Phantoms. Just shy of a point-per-game pace, Lindblom had two goals and five assists during that stretch.
Coming off being named the SHL’s Swedish Forward of the Year, there may have been expectations for Lindblom to perform. He led his team last season with 47 points, five more than his next closest teammate. He was fourth in the league in scoring and first among all under-24 players.
The season before, Lindblom’s 25 points in 48 games led all under-20 players in scoring. One could’ve easily expected it would be a quick jump to the NHL.
That wouldn’t happen and it would be a struggle to start the season for Lindblom. Despite having played with some of his current teammates before, things were not clicking. Lindblom went scoreless in his first six games this season. He was having trouble making the transition on and off the ice.
Things have greatly changed for Lindblom, however.
Numbers Piling Up For Lindblom
Since going scoreless in his first six games, Lindblom has collected 16 goals and 18 assists. His 34 points rank fourth on the Phantoms and are 10th among all AHL rookies.
Among all Phantoms rookies, he ranks first in goals and is tied with Mike Vecchione in assists. Lindblom is also on a three-game goal scoring streak, having netted a goal in each of the Phantoms weekend games.
“He plays the right way, he does the right things. And if he’s not scoring, he’s still generating offensive chances. So there’s really nothing that changes with him.” Head coach Scott Gordon said after Sunday’s 4-1 victory.
This is what Oskar Lindblom does. He gets to the net, and he makes it happen.
Goals in three straight games this weekend for #28. pic.twitter.com/yv6BIUIQ2Y
— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) February 18, 2018
It’s been quite a turnaround for Lindblom, who was named to the All-Star game this past January. Teammate Danick Martel was scheduled to go but was replaced with Lindblom after suffering a broken jaw. Nonetheless, it was still an honour for Lindblom in his rookie season, no matter how he got there.
With the Flyers sitting at third place in the Metropolitan Division, they may not be in a hurry to make any moves. With players like Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick thriving, adding another young player may not be at the top of Ron Hextall‘s list.
Could A Call-Up Be Looming?
While Lindblom cannot control what happens up at the NHL level, he does have control over the way that he plays. And it’s been a good stretch for the rookie. He has five points in his last ten games, four goals and two assists.
The Phantoms find themselves in first place in the Atlantic Division. While Phil Varone is their leading scorer and a big part of where the team is at, Lindblom has also played a big role on the team.
When a rookie can contribute the way that Lindblom has, it shouldn’t be long before the Flyers take notice. With players such as Valtteri Filppula, Dale Weise and Jori Lehtera taking up spots in the bottom six, it may not be that easy.
With the trade deadline coming, anything can happen. If Oskar Lindblom keeps up his recent stretch of play, he may find himself in the NHL sooner rather than later.
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