New York Rangers: Oscar Lindberg Retooled and in the Lineup

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Lindberg spent the offseason rehabbing after hip surgery, which cost him most of training camp. This long journey has been quite difficult, but Lindberg has handled it like a pro.

After playing in 68 games last season with the New York Rangers, center Oscar Lindberg underwent hip surgery. While recovering, he lost his place in the lineup, as the Rangers made some key acquisitions, but fought back brilliantly. Lindberg has been able to retool his game, which is predicated in the faceoff dot, along with his passing and speed. His comeback took longer than expected, as team depth stood in his way, but Lindberg is back where he belongs. And that is smack dab in the middle of the New York Ranger lineup.

From Skelleftea to Hartford, by way of Phoenix

Oscar Lindberg was born in Skelleftea, Sweden and played for his hometown team, AIK, from 2009-10 until 2012-13. Over those four years, he played in 178 games, with 28 goals and 40 assists for 68 points. In 41 playoff games, he added nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points.

The 6 foot 1, 202-pound centerman played well enough in Sweden to be drafted by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in the 2nd round (57th pick overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Less than a year later, Lindberg was dealt by the Coyotes to the New York Rangers for Ethan Werek.

Lindberg began the 2013-14 season with the Hartford Wolf Pack and over the course of two seasons and 150 games, he was a productive player. 46 goals and 54 assists totaled 100 points. Throw in another 32 points in 30 playoff games and you see a pretty effective player beginning to emerge.

Star Rookie of Training Camp

During training camp to open the 2015-16 season, Oscar Lindberg’s play was exceptional. In fact, it was so good, he was named the recipient of the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award. Named in memory of the late European scout of the Rangers, it is awarded to the outstanding rookie in camp each season.

Lindberg’s play carried over during the season, in which he set a new Ranger rookie record. He scored a goal in each of the first three games of his NHL career. Lindberg also tied for second among NHL rookies with a +12 rating. Overall, he scored 13 goals, added 15 assists for a total of 28 points in 68 games last year. Lindberg also won 134 out of 277 face-offs for a 48.4%. Thus proving that he was reliable when it came to taking a crucial draw late in a game deep in his own territory.

Overcoming Injury and the Numbers

Hip surgery forced Lindberg to miss much of training camp, which put him behind everyone else. That was coupled with the acquisition of Mika Zibanejad from Ottawa, and the signings of Josh Jooris and Maxim Lapierre, as well as the emergence of Cristoval Nieves. Lindberg was as determined as ever and he had to be.

Zibanejad started as a top line center before his broken fibula, Lapierre never made it out of camp and Jooris was recently waived and claimed by the Arizona Coyotes. Nieves is playing well in Hartford and has even played well in his brief stint with the Rangers when injuries hit.

But through it all, Oscar Lindberg is back where he belongs; playing center for the New York Rangers. He has not scored a goal and only has three assists in 16 games, but has won 66 out of 120 face-offs and has a face-off % of 55.0.

His quick pass to Jasper Fast resulted in the only Ranger goal against Chicago in Sunday night’s 2-1 loss.

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With Jooris in Arizona and Nieves in Hartford, Lindberg will be right back in the mix of things. Before too long, he will be the center that Alain Vigneault will be depending on to take those crucial face-offs, both in the offensive and defensive zones. And Lindberg will not disappoint.