The Flyers are clearing some additional cap space just before the NHL’s first buyout window closes. Unfortunately, they’re set to buy out a player many fans have come to adore over the last several years.
Tuesday, the Flyers announced forward Oskar Linblom has been placed on waivers for purposes of buying out the final year of his contract. By buying out Lindblom, the club opens up $3,333,333 of cap space, but it also ends perhaps the most courageous story in recent Flyers history.
“This was a very difficult decision to make and one that we spent a lot of time examining,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “No one can question the desire, will and strength to overcome all that Oskar has been through off the ice in order to return to the game he loves. Further, Oskar’s commitment to his teammates and impact in our room has been immeasurable. He is truly an inspiration to us all and he will always remain a special part of the Philadelphia Flyers family. We wish him all the best as he continues his NHL career.”
Lindblom, selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, showed a lot of promise to start his NHL career. After logging 19 goals and 39 points in his first 104 games as a Flyer, he began to hit his stride at the beginning of the 2019-20 season, posting 11 goals and 18 points in 30 games to start the campaign.
However, in December of 2019, Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma — a type of bone cancer — that ended his season prematurely. At the time of his diagnosis, he was tied for the team lead in goals.
Lindblom completed his chemotherapy treatments the following summer and, amazingly, returned to the Flyers to compete in Game 6 and Game 7 of their second-round playoff series against the New York Islanders. The Flyers were ultimately unable to advance to the Eastern Conference Final, but Lindblom’s return inspired his teammates and was largely responsible for pushing the series to seven games.
“This kid has so much courage,” former Flyers captain Claude Giroux said of Lindblom after Game 6. “He played unbelievable too. He hasn’t played since I’m not even sure, but it’s been a long time. It’s been a long battle. This guy’s heart, you have to see it to believe it.”
Lindblom is now cancer-free and in 2021 was awarded the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to “the player who best embodies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey.”
Unfortunately, since his cancer diagnosis, Lindblom has been unable to return to his 2019-20 form. In his 129 games since the start of the 2020-21 season, Lindblom has managed just 20 goals and 40 points. Once a play-driving standout, the soon-to-be 26-year-old has lost much of what made him a dynamic 200-foot player in his early years as a pro.
Still, even post-diagnosis, Lindblom is a more-than-capable bottom-six winger. He’s still tenacious along the wall and competes on every shift. He may never reclaim the potential he once had in his early years, but he can definitely play a positive role elsewhere.
In all likelihood, Lindblom’s story as a hockey player isn’t over. But it is over with the Flyers, and that’s what stings the most.
In recognition of Lindblom, Flyers Charities is making a donation of $100,000 in his name to a local organization supporting families impacted by cancer.