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Reasonable Expectations: Oscar Lindberg

Oscar Lindberg, fast becoming a top prospect for the Rangers.

Oscar Lindberg, fast becoming a top prospect for the Rangers.

We have already discussed the expectations that may surround Jesper Fast as he looks to make the Rangers next season. When it comes to dealing with ‘reasonable expectations’ however, Oscar Lindberg may be on a hiding to nothing. When you’re an MVP, a league winner, and an elite scorer in your domestic league, people take notice and many people – media and fans alike – now eagerly anticipate Lindberg’s arrival in North American hockey.

With 42 points in 55 games in the defense first SHL (only three players scored over a point/game in 12-13), Lindberg exploded offensively compared to previous seasons. The Rangers may have anticipated a defensively sound, faceoff specialist (a team need). What they didn’t expect was a prospect arriving in North America as a potential NHL scoring forward.

Make no mistake, in the NHL Lindberg will still be judged primarily on his two way ability and his face off skills, but the Swedish center has developed such an all round game that people have already speculated how high he can go in the franchise, and whether he can be a legitimate offensive producer as an NHLer. It appears people are of the opinion that it’s when not if Lindberg becomes a Ranger. Ethan Werek who?

Prior to free agency, many speculated Lindberg would be a strong possibility to start the year in New York. But with the arrival of Dominic Moore –and Brian Boyle still on the roster– it appears Lindberg has to win a spot rather than have one to lose. Thanks to his recent, sensational SHL campaign it appears that Lindberg has more scoring upside than either Moore or Boyle. He should be a cheaper option than Boyle so with a strong camp Lindberg may force Boyle to the wing, or at the very least put himself in contention.

While the only sure thing at center next season is Derek Stepan (after all, we don’t know which Brad Richards to expect, or to what level Derick Brassard can play over an 82 game season) the Rangers have countless options down the middle with Stepan, Richards, Brassard, Boyle, Moore, and JT Miller; and that is without naming the prospects or AHL players who may be in contention.

Lindberg may be in the best position of all prospects heading into the pre-season in regards to winning a spot for opening night, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise or a disappointment to see him opening his season with Hartford. Like Fast, Lindberg still needs to acclimatize to the smaller rink.

The Rangers were patient with Artem Anisimov and developed the popular Russian into a fine two way NHL center. Anisimov played two full – one dominant – seasons with the Wolf Pack before eventually becoming a full time Ranger. Indeed, it took a 37 goal, 81 point AHL season for Anisimov to even get a first look at the NHL. So if Oscar Lindberg doesn’t even see the NHL next season it should neither be a shock nor should it create angst among the fan base.

Aside from Chris Kreider, maybe no prospect enters next year with greater expectancy than Oscar Lindberg. His achievements since becoming Ranger property has created this buzz. With Glen Sather publicly declaring that there will be room for prospects to play their way onto the NHL, roster Lindberg will arrive with plenty to play for.

Prospect Projection

Oscar Lindberg will start the season in the AHL barring a spectacular, undeniable pre-season based purely on numbers already in New York. However a strong start with the Whale and any kind of sub-par returns from Brian Boyle or Brad Richards will see Lindberg called up to New York.

Forty points and developing into a leader for the Wolfpack and an Anisimov-like development curve would be more than satisfactory for the Rangers. Lindberg doesn’t need to panic, with Brad Richards no long term solution the Swede is destined for New York.

14 Responses to “Reasonable Expectations: Oscar Lindberg”

  1. Spozo says:

    To put things in perspective, MZA led the SEL in points in 2010 and was voted MVP by the players. Granted Lindberg’s MVP was for the playoffs so he gets a couple extra points in my booked based on performing under pressure.

    • Chris says:

      I hear you, just don’t think is comparable. Completely different player types; MZA benefited from the extra ice but Lindberg’s style SHOULD translate to smaller ice easier, quicker.

  2. Centerman21 says:

    My guess is that Lindberg starts the season in the AHL.in Hartford but only because of the log jam at Center. RW looks to need players to fill in more than at Center. I think Kristo has that spot to lose and if theres an opening on the left side left by Hagelin. It gets grabbed up by either Kreider or Miller or both. I think the fact Kristo looks as NHL ready as he is made him an attractive option for the Rangers.

    • Chris says:

      I also think Kristo has a good chance to start in NY and Callahan’s injury probably played a part in their trade for him. Probably more physically able for NHL than Thomas

  3. Frank Cerbone says:

    Few Ranger fans follow hockey as intensely as I do and be advised Rangers got Lindberg for Werek because 1) Lindberg was coming off a concussion and 2) Boston had rated Werek as a possible 1st round pick.

    Rangers head scout Gordie Clark, who has no nose for talent, drafted Werek in the 2nd rd soley because of Boston’s ill advised rating.

    Michael St Croix has no injuries to speak of in juniors, and at, 20, could benefit from an entire year in Hartford. He has a ton of upside, especially since he has put on maybe 20 lbs and grown an inch since he was drafted.

    • Spozo says:

      What’s your reference that the Rangers drafted based soley on Boston’s ranking?

    • Chris says:

      Not sure where you get Clark’s apparent lack of ‘nose’, or that Werek was ranked 1st round by just Boston.
      Werek was ranked a 1st round talent by a lot of people in his draft year, not just one club. He was not a reach or a poor pick at the time. Drafting is simply an inexact science.

    • Dave says:

      What does Boston have to do with this? Werek went to Phoenix for Lindberg.

  4. Bloomer says:

    I haven’t watch Oscar play hockey but I am looking forward to it. I agree about St. Croix he is a diamond in the rough, watching him play remains me of a young Marc Savard. Hopefully, the Rangers will be patient with both Lindberg and St. Croix as the organization has a history of trading away very talented hockey players.

  5. bill_goldthorpe says:

    The thing I love about Lindberg – Ethan Werek who?

    That trade was in some ways similar to the Danny Kristo deal, except on a smaller scale.

  6. WilliamW says:

    No need to rush. The kid. A solid AHL year with the potential for a few games in NY if injuries should warrant it

    Long term should be a strong fit for the middle of the line-up

    Excited to see how he fares in camp

  7. Walt says:

    I stated on many occasions that the Lindberg kid will start in the AHL, and then come up in mid season, or so. I stand on that thought because this kid is very solid both ways, and a can score. When the 2014-15 season starts, Step, Brass, Lindberg will be the top three center icemen for this organization.

    The best part of the article as written, is that there is no rush to bring Oscar along until he is ready, and it shouldn’t take very long for this kid to adapt to the smaller ice serface. I’m really excited at the long term prospect for this team, young, solid two way players, with speed to burn, and so many of them in the pipeline, WOW!

  8. Al says:

    Being swedish and a fan of Skellefteå AIK (Lindbergs team) I’ve watched him play a lot. He really dominated in the playoffs with his awareness and hockey IQ, which I think is his strongest side. He’s good at faceoffs but I don’t think he’s going to be a face off specialist directly: In Skellefteå he wasn’t the #1 faceoff guy…