It feels like we've been talking about Oscar Lindberg forever.
Drafted by the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes in 2010, Lindberg was traded to the New York Rangers less than a year later for Ethan Werek. The trade eventually became another one of Glen Sather's notoriously brilliant post-lockout trades -- especially since Werek fizzled out and is coming off a subpar AHL campaign with Providence last year. I don't know enough about Werek to speak intelligently about him, but I'm nearly positive he's not fighting for an NHL spot this year.
Lindberg was something of an unknown when the Rangers made the move to acquire him, but with social media booming it was never easier to follow a European prospect playing his games overseas. Soon enough, Lindberg was tearing up the SHL (now the SEL); posting 42 points in 55 SHL games in 2012, following that up with 12 points in 13 playoff games and subsequently winning the SHL Playoffs MVP that year.
Expectations couldn't have been higher for Lindberg coming off that campaign, and with a transitional period to North America looming a 21-year-old Lindberg notched 44 points in 75 AHL games. Last year Lindberg doubled down on that effort with 56 points in 75 games and then 16 points in 15 AHL playoff games.
Well people know about him now, and if his first two preseason games weren't enough of an indication, Elliotte Friedman confirmed in this week's 30 Thoughts that Lindberg was being watch closely by the rest of the NHL.
24. Opponents are watching the Rangers' Oscar Lindberg, who must clear waivers to be sent down to AHL Hartford. He played centre in game one, and scored. He played wing in game two, and scored. He's regularly in the middle, but New York is loaded there. The expectation (from outside) is he makes it, but if he doesn't, extremely unlikely he clears. And the Rangers are well aware of that.
We've walked down this road before -- a few times, actually -- but it's pretty clear that even though Lindberg needs to make the Rangers to stay in New York, he's not going to be making the team simply because he has to pass through waivers. He's going to be making the team because he's dominated the preseason and he's a better option than almost everyone else fighting for a spot with him. And he's still got room to grow. Win win.
Lindberg will make another appearance against the Bruins tonight; marking his third preseason game in as many opportunities. To this point he's grabbed the bull by the horns and has taken full advantage of his opportunity.
The Rangers better make sure the mistakes of last year remain in the past and should take note in just how good Lindberg could be.
If they don't, other teams in the NHL sure seem willing to do it for them.