The New York Rangers have had some decent success with prospects in recent years. But, with players like Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast, and J.T. Miller all making the jump to the NHL, it’s time to look at the forward pipeline and see who the next Rangers star could be.
In this series, we’ll break down the prospects that could make an impact on the Rangers roster in the near future. Our first prospect is Oscar Lindberg, a 23-year-old center from Sweden.
About Oscar Lindberg
Lindberg was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the Arizona Coyotes. The next year, he was traded to the Rangers in exchange for Ethan Werek. Before moving to North America, he played for Skelleftea, his hometown team, of the SHL at many levels. Once he made it to the top flight, he excelled, scoring 42 points in 55 games in 2012-13.
In the playoffs that season, he put up 12 points in 13 games while leading Skelleftea to an SHL title and playoffs MVP trophy.
He made the jump to North America for the 2013-14 season, and excelled at the AHL level, notching 44 points in 75 games. Lindberg got even better in 2014-15, putting up 56 points in 75 games. Once again, he became a prime playoff performer, with 16 points in 15 Calder Cup Playoff games this past season.
What the Experts Say
Here’s what Elite Prospects has to say about Lindberg back in 2011:
“A very smart two-way center. Takes care of his defensive responsibilities, but also contributes offensively with good speed, technical skills and playmaking ability. Not an overly physical player, but he gets involved. Pretty good shot, but not a natural scorer. A team player who is good at faceoffs.”
Hockey’s Future had this to say:
“Lindberg has an excellent work ethic and plays well in all zones. A true center, with very good on-ice awareness, Lindberg has good playmaking abilities, and tends to step up play in big games. Lindberg is a potential third-line player with good offensive upside.”
Finally, Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus said:
“Pro level skater, thinks the game at a solid level, works hard on the ice and has an advanced defensive game. His offensive skills won’t exceed average, and physically he has a ways to go. In regards to the trade, he’s a much safer pro bet than Werek, but Werek has a tad more upside.”
Where He Fits in New York
Lindberg is a center, and the Rangers are in a bit of a tricky situation down the middle right now. They still have to sign Derek Stepan, who has recently filed for salary arbitration. With Ryan O’Reilly’s massive payday from Buffalo, it will be hard to avoid either paying Stepan the big bucks at some point or trading him.
Without Stepan, there is a gaping hole at center. Kevin Hayes is still developing, but he could become a solid option at center, along with Derek Brassard. However, Hayes has been playing on the wing because there are enough centermen in place already. J.T. Miller is also in development, but might be able to slide in, if necessary.
For Lindberg, it will be a tough task to make the NHL team, as long as this logjam down the middle is still around. If he can prove himself, he might be able to get the roster nod over Miller. If not, he’ll likely spend a third season at the AHL level. However, should there be any injuries, or should Stepan get moved, Lindberg will certainly be the first one up to the main roster.
All that aside, Lindberg definitely has a future in the NHL at some point. He’s a playoff stud, as he has shown in the SHL and AHL. He should get a shot at the NHL level to prove his abilities.