When the Rangers traded Ethan Werek for little known second round pick Oscar Lindberg, we knew the Rangers were trading some raw offensive talent for a more polished defensive talent who can win face offs. The trade itself was tough to analyze, but it looks like Glen Sather knew what he was doing when he targeted the young Swede.
Known defensive prowess and his ability in the face off circle (~60% success rate), Lindberg was never considered to be a true offensive talent. It was widely speculated that his play without the puck –specifically his face off skill– would be his path to the NHL.
My what a difference a hot start makes.
After 11 games in the SEL, Lindberg is top five in scoring, averaging a point-per-game with four goals and seven assists to go with ten PIMs and a +5 rating. This new-found offense while playing on the first line has not come at the expense of his defensive ability. As a result, Lindberg has found himself playing on his club’s top line, top powerplay unit, and getting enormous amounts of critical ice time.
The focus in Sweden has been on Jesper Fast, as he is definitely the more flashy and offensively skilled forward, but Lindberg’s offensive outburst has vaulted him to the forefront of Swedish prospects primed to play in North America next year.
Two of the biggest holes on the Rangers that were exploited last season was bottom-six depth and face off effectiveness. Lindberg, should he continue to tear up the SEL, is a player that can fix both issues singlehandedly.
Lindberg inked an entry level contract in May, and will likely join Fast in North America next year.