4B EXCLUSIVE: Catching Up With Rangers Prospect Olof Lindbom
When the Rangers used a second-round pick in 2018 to select Swedish goaltender Olof Lindbom, there was a lot of criticism. Why did the Rangers pick a goalie? And why Lindbom, who was ranked below other goaltenders? A year later, Olof Lindbom is on the verge of taking the next big step in his career by moving to a new team and signing a pro contract with Mora. I sat down with Olof Lindbom to discuss his experience being in the Rangers organization and more.
Lindbom, born and raised in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, has played for local team Djurgården since he was 14. His younger brother, Carl Lindbom, also a goalie and draft-eligible in 2021, is moving up to the U18 team at age 16 for this upcoming season. But for Olof, who will be moving to Mora after spending the last four years playing for his hometown team, doesn’t think moving away from his family is going to be a challenge.
“I don’t think it will be hard to leave Djurgården. To play in Mora is something I’m really excited about and it is the next step in my development of becoming a Rangers goalie.”
Lindbom’s desire to occupy the crease at 4 Penn Plaza is clearly driving him to reach the next level.
Hearing his name called on day two of last year’s draft was a great feeling for the goalie who was only 17 at the time. The draft is a unique experience for prospects and one they will never forget. Our European correspondent, Steven Voogel, attended the draft last year in Dallas and noted how much the event reminds him of a high school graduation. Prospects dressed in a suit, mom, dad, and siblings walking with them as they navigate their way through a huge arena in – for the Europeans – a strange country. Lindbom’s experience was no different.
But not only was the draft experience something that prospects, will never forget; getting drafted by an Original Six team like the Rangers has its own special significance.
“It was a great feeling, getting drafted. [It] is something you dream about as a little kid. I knew beforehand that Rangers is a great organization with a lot of history, so when they picked me I felt really honored!”
When Lindbom was selected in Dallas in 2018, he joined a group of Swedish prospects including Nils Lundkvist, Calle Själin, and Jakob Ragnarsson. They regularly discuss things and are quite close, knowing each other from playing together at different youth levels.
“We are all friends so we talk about a lot more than just hockey. But we all think we are very blessed to be a part of the New York Rangers.”
In the past season, Lindbom struggled with injuries in the first half of the season. But, after getting healthy in the second half of the season, he fought his way back into the U20 SuperElit team. Goalies are always a long-term project and the Rangers and its fanbase should be familiar with that by now. It took both Henrik Lundqvist and Igor Shesterkin five full years after being drafted to make the jump to North America. Lindbom, who was called up to the men’s team in the SHL near the end of the season, has a good understanding of where his focus should lie in the near future.
“To get to the NHL, I have improve the small things in my game and probably the most important thing for me is to raise my lowest level of play. Play less bad games over the course of the season and play more consistent.”
Lindbom, who is currently in North America for the upcoming World Juniors Summer Showcase, attended Rangers prospect development camp earlier this month.
“This year, the development camp was really good for me personally. I think I showed the staff what I can do. And most importantly I got a lot of great feedback from Benoit Allaire, so I was happy with my camp.”
Mentioning Allaire and the positive feedback he got from the goaltending guru shows that Lindbom is on the right track. As mentioned before, it will be a few more years before he is ready, but working with Allaire in the offseason will impact Lindbom’s development greatly.
It should come as no surprise who Lindbom’s favorite player was as a kid.
“My favorite player growing up was Henrik Lundqvist, and that made it even more special to me when I got drafted by the Rangers.”
The comparisons between Lundqvist and Lindbom will be made for a long time, since both goalies are Swedish, and drafted by the Blueshirts. Lindbom played with number 60 in the prospect development camp, but that isn’t his favorite number.
“My number has always been 30. From when I started playing hockey until now. I picked it as a kid because Lundqvist had it.”
The final six months of 2019 will be interesting for Lindbom. He has a pretty good chance to make his professional debut with his team Mora in the Allsvenskan and is one of the candidates to protect the net between the pipes for the Swedish national team at the World Juniors this winter in the Czech Republic. With Karl Henriksson added to the Rangers organization, there’s a good chance the Blueshirts have a large contingent representing Tre Kronor at the most prestigious junior tournament in the world.
“It’s always an honor to wear the Swedish jersey and the group of guys who I have been a part in is a very tight and fun group to be around!”
Playing with Nils Lundkvist and Karl Henriksson in the Summer Showcase this week, the young goalie will build on the relationships he already has with his fellow Rangers. Because that is what they are. Lundkvist, Henriksson, Ragnarsson, Aaltonen, Själin, Pajuniemi, Jones, Skinner, Robertson. Whether they play in New York, Hartford or Europe, each and every one of these kids is a New York Ranger.