The Flyers' fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Oskar Lindblom, was also their first European player chosen in this draft. Based on the rankings out there for him -- some of which had him pegged as a second-round guy -- the Flyers did a pretty good job getting some value for their pick.
Let's take a closer look at what the soon-to-be-18-year old Swede brings to the table.
Date of Birth: August 15, 1996
Primary Team, 2013-14: Brynas, J20 SuperElit
Nationality: Swedish (Gavle)
No fancystats for Swedish junior leagues, as it turns out. But we do know that Lindblom's 33 points (in 43 games) at the J20 level were good for 35th in the league, including 7th among all under-18 players.
Rankings and Opinions
ISS: 51 (24th among left and right wingers combined)
Skill: Versatile winger who plays with drive and determination. Creates havoc in the slot.
Scouting Report: Lindblom was a presence in the offensive zone throughout this season with Brynas Junior team and the U18 team Sweden. He is a big body forward who plants himself on top of the crease and is hard to outmuscle. Nose for the dirty areas on the ice and thrives playing a game that will make room for more skilled players with the puck. Strength on the puck as he bulls his way up ice into the offensive zone. His feet and skating are works in progress to get to the next level. Offensively he is best suited in front where he can crash and bang loose pucks. He plays the game with that "North American" demeanour and style, thrives in the bang and crash game while showing strong awareness on both sides of the puck.
ISS Scout S.Cocker: "Power forward who shows drive and awareness for the two-way game. Creates havoc in the slot and has a nose for the net".
ISS Scout O.Lahdesmaki: "Good two-way work ethic, responsible defensively. Good character. Upside relies on more of a power forward top 6 role, can adapt for bottom 6 role as well".
NHL Potential: 2nd - 3rd line winger who is reliable defensively and chip in points.
Style compares to: Johan Franzen
Central Scouting Services: 23 among European skaters (11th among wingers)
Corey Pronman, ESPN (Insider, $): 43 (21st among wingers)
Lindblom turned a lot of heads as an under-age player at the 2013 under-17 world championships, when he led the tournament in scoring; bear in mind that this was an event that featured many of this draft class' top prospects. He hasn't lived up to that performance this season, but he remains very intriguing. Lindblom is a strong power winger who gets praise for the tough brand of hockey he brings out of his 6-2, 187-pound frame. He's a solid skater with a fine top gear and he can be a handful for defenders. He's not the most gifted skill guy, with one NHL exec saying, "He's always going to have to find tough ways to score, because he won't beat guys with the puck."
Hockey's Future ranked him with a prospect score of "6.5C" and had the following to say about him as a player:
Lindblom goes hard to the net and likes to stick around once there. He’s someone who offers up his body in the corners and in the slot. Decent hands in tight and does have an eye for finding his linemates. Can play a corner rotation game. A player who is ready to go where it hurts and take punishment to make things happen. Lindblom is defensively aware and plays the game in all three zones. Sometimes shows some above-average cleverness and tends to enjoy the trust of his coaches.
Lindblom is not particularly fast nor a skater whose agility and movement sticks out at you. Seems to make no impact from more than 5-10 feet within the goal. Not a player who makes things happen much, but more a benefactor who can complement better skill players. Tends not to make an impact in games where his team needs players to step up. Lindblom has decent size, but doesn’t necessarily have a frame conducive to the addition of a lot of weight.
There's a tiny bit of disagreement in some of the above reports, particularly in terms of how good of a skater Lindblom is -- though, with the Flyers' clear goal of adding more speed to the system in this draft, you can guess that they probably found him to be at least a decent skater. That aside, however, most of these reports paint a pretty clear picture of what kind of a player Oskar Lindblom is. He's a good old-fashioned power forward: a rough-and-tumble, physically-oriented guy, who's at his best right in front of the net.
In terms of strengths, Lindblom is a player who's strong on the puck, goes into the dirty areas to win battles, and dominates that area right in front of the net where he can eat up rebounds, get deflections, and score plain-old dirty goals.
There are some remarks about him being good at gaining the offensive zone, always a key skill to have in this day and age. He's not a huge player but it seems like he plays a style that's bigger than his size, and it seems like he's at least an OK skater in terms of power-forward type. It also sounds like he's a solid defensive/two-way player, which is good.
For downsides, Lindblom's game doesn't seem to be based much on his own skill -- the reports above seem to indicate that he's more of a complementary player to more skilled types, and he's not the type who makes lots of pretty plays that you'll see on highlight reels. This isn't an awful thing to say by itself, but players like that tend to have stretches where they'll look invisible if teammates around them aren't at their best, and I doubt he's an exception.
With his profile as described above, there are a lot of directions that Lindblom's development can go in from here. A guy like him doesn't seem like he'll need to be shoehorned into any sort of role -- he could be an NHLer whether he tops out as a top-six guy or a fourth-liner.
His stock evidently dropped during the course of the year -- Pronman said he was a "clear top 30-40 guy" coming into the season -- so if he can re-discover the form that had him at that level, the Flyers may have a steal on their hands.
But as it is with all of these guys, it's difficult to gauge where his ceiling is and how likely he is to reach it. Who knows.
I know very little about how the hierarchy of Swedish minor/junior systems, so I can't say the following with confidence, but it seems likely that Lindblom will mostly play at the J20 Superelit level again this year for Brynas in Sweden. He did manage to dress for four games at the highest level -- the SHL -- last year, so there's a chance he'll get to do that again this year.
Fit with the Flyers
With Nicolas Aube-Kubel two days ago, we talked about bringing an infusion of skill to the wing in the Flyers' system. Lindblom is sort of on the opposite end of the spectrum -- he's not as much of a "skill" guy, per se -- but he'll likely slot in on the organizational depth chart right below Aube-Kubel, becoming another interesting prospect on the wing for the Flyers.
Compared to the rest of the Flyers' 2014 draft class, Lindblom appears to be the weakest skater of the group, and maybe the one whose game is the least reliant on his own hockey skill. But there's certainly still value in his skillset -- and for a guy who was pegged as a second-round talent for much of the year to ultimately drop to the fifth round, it's hard to argue much with the pick.
Sadly, there's not much out there in the way of videos with Oskar Lindblom, other than some Swedish interviews that probably aren't worth posting here. But if you find something fun to put here, let us know!