Olof Lindbom has been to the New York Rangers prospect development camp three times now.
The former second round pick out of Sweden was the first goaltender of the board in the 2018 draft and is coming off his best season for Kristianstads IK.
But while he has shown the ability to win games for his team, the logjam at the goalie position, and Lindbom’s health has made the start of his career a roller-coaster to say the least.
Speaking to reporters following Tuesday’s session, the 21 year old was well aware of the difficult few years that may have hurt his overall development.
“I’ve had surgery on my ankle, so I had to put a tight rope and that made me lose 2-3 months in the prior year.” Lindbom said. “The past few years have been tough. But this year I’m healthy and ready to go.”
Back in May, the Rangers signed Lindbom to a two year deal worth an AAV of $925K. For the netminder, it said more about what the coaches thought of him and his overall development than his injury concerns.
“I think they’ve seen improvement. I think they just want to take me over and work with the coaches and be on the smaller rink. I think that the smaller rink suits me better than the bigger.”
International-sized ice is 15 feet wider than rinks used in the NHL. But the large size difference actually helps a player like Lindbom who says the strength of his game centers around footwork and being able to read the play in front of him.
The Swedish netminder gave up 3.22 goals a game last season for Kristianstads IK of HockeyAllsvenskan while saving a solid 90% of the shots faced. The numbers were solid for a 21 year old who is looking to continue his development now with the New York Rangers.
Lindbom and his goalie compatriots
While Lindbom has shown the ability to play well overseas, he joins a crowded and talented group of goaltenders for the New York Rangers.
The Blueshirts currently are the home for the Vezina trophy winner Igor Shesterkin, while employing others in their farm system that appear ready to make the jump to the NHL. The recent trade of backup Alexander Georgiev, hasn’t exactly opened up enough spots for the multiple options the Rangers could employ to backup their star.
Dylan Garland, Adam Huska, and Tyler Wall could all compete with Lindbom for the backup goaltending slot. While a future in Hartford and the Ranger’s AHL affiliate team seems likely, the Swede understands the benefit of playing in a crowded group.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for me to be here. (Igor) Shesterkin is obviously really good but I feel like after that it’s anyone’s game. They are probably going to sign someone too but you never know. I’m just here to do my best and see where that goes.”
More than anything Lindbom is looking to continue to improve his game regardless of where that will be. At just 21-years-old, he is still young and has a lot of room to grow. The Rangers signing him to a two year deal only confirms that the coaching staff wants a more direct hand in the development of the young netminder.
The 2018 draft pick isn’t worried about where he will end up. If the end result is him playing in Hartford to start the 2022 season, Lindbom knows exactly what he’ll be looking to improve.
“My goal is to keep taking steps in my development. Play a lot of games and get better.” Lindbom responded. “For sure I’m going for the Rangers but it’s obviously a tough team to make. I just gotta do my best and see what the coaches say afterwards.”
Day three of Rangers development camp is tomorrow morning. NHL Free Agency is slated to start at noon tomorrow as well.
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