Oscar Lindberg (ice hockey)
Lindberg during a 2014 preseason game.
October 29, 1991 |
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||187 lb (85 kg; 13 st 5 lb)|
|New York Rangers
|NHL Draft||57th overall, 2010
|Men's Ice hockey|
Oscar Lindberg (born October 29, 1991) is an ice hockey player currently playing for the New York Rangers. Lindberg started getting noticed by scouts during the USA vs Sweden game of the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, where Sweden placed third. For the 2013–14 season he joined the Hartford Wolf Pack to develop his skills before moving up to the Rangers in the 2015–16 season where he was given the Lars-Erik Sjöberg Award, for being the best rookie at camp.
Lindberg was raised in Skelleftea, Sweden by his parents Christian and Katarina along with his twin brother, Johan, and his sister, Amanda. His junior coach was Jan Erixon, his mother's cousin, who made Lindberg a Rangers fan from a young age. Erixon's son, Tim, and Lindberg grew up as teammates in Skelleftea where they reached the Elitserien Finals on their home team. Throughout his early years of hockey, Lindberg identified Joe Sakic to be his idol.
Oscar Lindberg played his amateur hockey in Sweden, mainly for Skelleftea AIK. In 2010, he was drafted in the 2nd round, 57th overall by the Arizona Coyotes. He was also drafted to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) by HC Spartak Moscow in 2010. The next year, Lindberg's NHL rights were traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ethan Werek. Once he finished up his years in Sweden, he came over to America to play for the Hartford Wolf Pack, the minor league affiliate of the Rangers. During his time there, he was the second highest point producer in two consecutive seasons. After a successful pre-season training camp before the 2015-2016 season, Lindberg earned himself a spot on the Rangers roster, where he currently plays.
Lindberg started off playing hockey in his native country of Sweden. While playing for the Swedish U-17 and U-18 leagues he started becoming well known to scouts. In 2007-2008 he established his Skelleftea U-18 career high in his 31 games played and 19 goals scored. In this same year he made his first debut for Skelleftea Jr. by playing in one regular season game and two playoff games for the team. Then in the 2008-2009 season, Lindberg was splitting playing for Skelleftea Jr in the SuperElit league and Skelleftea U18 in SWE-U 18 league. He led Skelleftea U-18 in goals, assists and points, was in second for penalty minutes during the regular season, and was third in total playoff points for the U-18 team as well.
In 2010, he was drafted in round seven as number 178 in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) draft by the team Spartak Moskva. At this point he stopped playing for Skelleftea U-18 and balanced between Skelleftea Jr and the KHL. During this season he led Skelleftea Jr in points and assists and ranked second for penalty minutes. In the KHL he scored on goal over the course of 36 games, made one assist and when it came to the playoffs he scored one goal out of the ten games. From 2011-2012 Lindberg balanced playing for Skelleftea in the SHL league, Skelleftea Jr, and Sundsvall IF in the SWE-2 league. During this season, Lindberg was picked to attend the World Junior Championships in Buffalo for the Swedish team where in the first game he scored two goals, had two assists, and was also rated as a plus-3 in three of the tournament games. In the game against Team USA, the Ranger scouts truly saw his NHL potential where Team Sweden got a bronze medal which sparked their interest.
In Sweden, Lindberg was established as one of the Elitserien's top nineteen year old centers. During his second Elitserian season with Skelleftea, he was the team's second youngest player but over the course of 41 games he still scored five goals. In the 2013 season, Lindberg had 17 goals and 25 assists including five power plays and four game winning goals. Later in the playoffs, Lindberg earned the title of MVP by leading Skelleftea to the Swedish Elite League Championship with four goals and eight assists. After his playing in the 2013 season, Lindberg earned his 9th place spot in the Rangers prospect rankings by Hockey's Future.
During Lindberg's last season with Skelleftea, he established SHL career-highs in games played, goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, and plus/minus rating. He ranked second on the team in assists, third in points, fourth in goals, and was also eighth in the league in points. While leading Skelleftea to the SHL Championship, Lindberg established playoff career-highs in goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, and plus/minus rating. This allowed Lindberg to tie for first in the SHL for both playoff assists and playoff points.
Going into the draft, Lindberg was ranked as the 7th best European skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. According to The Hockey News scouting report, he was a "Pure point producer with very good hockey sense, he also has some two-way ability and a projectable frame. Can be an asset on special teams, as well. However, he needs to become a more consistent performer from game to game at the NHL level. Could stand to shoot the puck more. Also needs to get physically stronger." Oscar Lindberg was drafted 2nd Round, 57th Overall by the Arizona Coyotes. Although he was drafted by the Coyotes, they weren't the only ones who wanted him. Similar to many other players that currently play for the Rangers, they had their eye on Lindberg for a while.
On May 8, 2011, the Rangers made a trade with the Coyotes to bring the 6'0, 19-year-old into the organization. In the trade, the Rangers sent Ethan Werek to the Coyotes, a 6'2 Center, who the Rangers drafted in the 2009 NHL Draft in return for Lindberg. After the trade, Lindberg said "It was very exciting. I was pretty surprised at first when I got the news, but it's going to be fun to be a part of the Rangers organization". Anders Hedberg, a former Rangers star who is now the team's Head Professional Scout for Europe, saw Lindberg play several times during his draft year. Hedberg said, "We know a lot about him. He played on the Swedish Under-17 and Under-18 teams, so he was a very well known Swedish prospect Our scouts had seen him a lot leading up to the draft." After Lindberg was traded to the Rangers, Hedberg was quoted as saying, "European kids his age have never been traded, because there is no trading system in Europe. Usually a trade comes almost as a shock. In many cases they view it as a negative because they think it means there is something wrong with them. But in this case, it was actually the opposite. He was very excited.".
In the summer before the 2013-2014 season, Lindberg came over to the US to join the Hartford Wolf Pack. While the Rangers wanted Lindberg to play for them, they still felt that he needed to develop his game a little bit. Also, coming from Europe he had to get used to playing on a smaller rink in America. In his first season in North America, Lindberg ranked second on the team in points with 44 points in 76 games. In his second season with the Wolf Pack, he improved even farther, and scored 56 points in 75 games, which again had him ranked second on the team.
In his last season with the Wolf Pack, Lindberg established career-highs in goals, assists, points, power play goals, plus/minus rating, ad shots on goal while also tying AHL career highs in games played and game winning goals. Specifically, Lindberg tied for eighth in the AHL in goals, ranked ninth in shots on goal, and tied for ninth in power play goals. In addition, he ranked second among European born players in the AHL in both goal and points. Lindberg led the Wolf Pack in game winning goals and shots on goal, ranked second in goals, assists, points, and power play goals. He also tied for second in games played and ranked fifth in plus/minus rating. Lindberg skated in 150 career AHL games over two seasons, both with Hartford, registering 46 goals and 54 assists along with a plus-nine rating and 126 penalty minutes. He is the first European-born Rangers prospect who recorded at least 100 points over a two-season span with Hartford since Artem Anisimov in 2007-08 and 2008-09. During the season he was given the chance to play up a level in the NHL in one game for the Rangers.The Rangers needed someone to fill in for Rick Nash, and gave Lindberg the chance to do it. AFter the one game he was sent right back to Hartford but said, "That one game gave me energy, confidence and I played well the rest of the season,".
Lindberg debuted in the NHL at Madison Square Garden playing as the center of the third line, since Rick Nash was unable to play due to neck spasm. Coach Alain Vigneault said he played alright for his first game and then sent him right back to the AHL at the conclusion of the game. The next summer, Lindberg signed a two-year deal carrying a $650,000 annual salary-gap hit. This carried a provision that he couldn't be sent down without waivers, so if he didn't make the Rangers, it would be difficult to send him back to Hartford without losing him to another team’s waiver claim.
During training camp, it seemed he would either be able to get a spot on the roster by playing in the middle of the third line or as the 13th forward. He scored two goals in four preseason games which earned him the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award for best rookie at training camp. When playing against the Blackhawks in the preseason he scored in the first period of the game along with one other rookie. In his first game of the 2015–16 season with the Rangers, Lindberg got 8:18 minutes of playing time and scored two goals. Since he scored on his first shot of the season, he received the “Broadway hat” from his teammates which is considered an honor in the locker room.
Lindberg became the first player for the Rangers to score in the first three games of his rookie season since Steven King in 1992. Head Coach Alain Vigneault said players go through stretches of good games and he did not think it would continue, but appreciated the goals. He was impressed by the rookie's start with 10 goals in the first 27 games, and gave him the opportunity to play center first line with veteran, Rick Nash, and Chris Kreider. Vigneault was then quoted saying “He seems to feel more and more comfortable with more responsibilities. There's no doubt that if we do decide to go this route, those are two pretty good players, might be a good fit for him. We'll see what we come up with”. The Rangers generally were not expecting so much on the offense from Lindberg especially since he changed from center to wing in the transition from AHL to NHL. Yet one teammate, Lundqvist, said he was expecting him to be good because he follows the Swedish league.
There came a time when the goal streak and playing time did not continue. Lindberg's consistency needed to improve at this level and he needed to get physically stronger. After playing against the Bruins he was benched on January 11 due to the return of teammate Chris Kreider, who was out for a gash on the top of his right hand for two games. Rangers coach said Lindberg was not benched for playing badly, he had been doing well but is considered the odd guy out and would stay like that if nothing changed.
Regular season and playoffs
|2013–14||Hartford Wolf Pack||AHL||75||18||26||44||58||—||—||—||—||—|
|2014–15||Hartford Wolf Pack||AHL||75||28||28||56||68||15||3||13||16||6|
|2014–15||New York Rangers||NHL||1||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|2015–16||New York Rangers||NHL||68||13||15||28||43||2||0||0||0||2|
Records and Accomplishments
- Larserik Sjoberg Recipient 2015- award annually given to best rookie at Ranger's training camp. This was the first time this award had been given out since 2010 when it was won by Derek Stephen.
- Lindberg is the first player since Steven King in 1992 to score in the first three games of his rookie season.
- Received the Broadway hat, a locker room honor, after scoring his first shot of the season.
- Named playoff MVP and received the Stefan Liv Memorial trophy for his contributions which led to Skelleftea winning the Swedish Elite League Championship in 2013.
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