VOORHEES, N.J. -- Oskar Lindblom watched this summer’s NHL draft live in Sweden while laying on his bed.
“I went to the bathroom for a second and come back and got the call from Philadelphia,” Lindblom said. “I got real excited.”
The 6-foot-2, 187-pound left wing was the youngest player the Flyers drafted last month. He's 17, and doesn’t turn 18 until mid-August.
The Flyers' development camp, which ended on Tuesday, represented his initial introduction to the organization.
Although Lindblom slipped to rank 23rd among European skaters in Central Scouting’s final draft rankings, Flyers Swedish scout Joakim Grundberg, himself an active player in Division 2 European hockey two years ago, still felt Lindblom was worth selecting.
“They talked to me before, and seemed pretty interested in me this year,” Lindblom said.
The Flyers tabbed him in the fifth round as Grundberg made a convincing argument for the kid with John Riley of the Flyers’ player development department.
“Our player development guys will sit down with Oskar over there [Europe], and they set up a game plan for next year,” said Chris Pryor, the organization’s director of scouting. “There are expectations and goals for them to reach. He’s been all ears, works hard, and he ask questions.”
Lindblom, born in Gavle, Sweden, has made a steady progression of moving up the ladder in Europe, from Under-17, Under-18, to junior 20 with Brynas, and then a little snippet of Brynas' top club in the Swedish Hockey League last season.
He’s projected to remain with that club this year, as well, although he had some overtures from the KHL at one point.
“I think it was better for me to stay home and take small steps,” Lindblom said. “Be ready to play in the NHL. I always wanted that. The NHL is better. I played [in Europe] four or five years and go up in the rankings, and I’m going to be playing in the Swedish League this year, I think, take a spot there. Continue to be better. Hope to play here in a couple years.”
Lindblom likes to rush the net and mix it up, something that caught the Flyers’ eye. He also showed goal-scoring ability, tallying 13 goals and 33 points with the Junior 20 club last season. In four games at the top level, he had no points.
He also played on a line with fellow draft pick William Nylander (first round, Toronto) as an under-18 player.
“He’s a good player,” Lindblom said of Nylander. “He can hold the puck a long time with his passing and I get to shoot it.”
Lindblom’s stock rose a bit at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup last year when he scored two goals, and had four points and a plus-4 ranking in four games.
“I think it got me noticed,” he said. “The year before, I played under-17 against Canada, and did really good there. That’s when I came up in the [rankings].”
This camp is really about establishing work habits, expectations, nutrition and hockey education. Some of these players will return when the Flyers' training camp opens in September.
Others, like Lindblom, will go back to Europe to begin their season.
“He’ll be with the big team over in Sweden,” Pryor said. “We won’t get a chance to see him physically, until next summer. He has to get acclimated to playing with men which is a big jump for himself.”
Again, keep in mind, Lindblom has yet to turn 18.
“From a confidence standpoint, he should be feeling pretty good about it,” Pryor said. “That they feel good enough to put him with the men. It says a lot about those young kids in the men’s elite league over there. He has to continue to get strong and develop his game. There is no rush on our end. He’s in a good situation over there.”
Lindblom himself says, “I think I need one or two years there and then I’ll be ready to come over here.”
Those are exactly kind of words every NHL club wants to hear from a prospect.