Taking a look at the Rangers “controversial” pick, Olof Lindbom

Olof Lindbom (Getty images)

Many fans were angered at the Rangers’ second round selection, Swedish goalie Olof Lindbom. And I must admit, I was too. There is simply no need for a goalie. Alexandar Georgiev, who spent ten games of his season in the NHL, along with top goalie prospect Igor Shestyorkin, the Rangers seem to be set at goalie. So why would they take a goalie when they have these two assets? Also worth noting, is that there were many highly ranked prospects still left on the board, such as Missisauga center Ryan McLeod, US U18 Team defenseman Bode Wilde, and Niagara IceDogs assistant captain Akil Thomas.

Well, we all should know that the Rangers and their coaching staff don’t like taking the best player available, but rather the one that they like the most, and/or best fits their needs. But that still doesn’t really explain why they took Lindbom. However, Rick Carpiniello has reported that NYR goalie coach Benoit Allaire was “thrilled” with the selection, which provides a little bit of relief regarding the fit of the second-round pick.

Let’s take a look at Lindbom’s stats and playing history to try and justify this selection.

The first upside of Lindbom is that he was ranked 53rd overall in TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s Final Draft Ranking. He was the second ranked goalie, behind Drummondville netminder Olivier Rodrigue, who was only ranked four spots higher at 49.

Lindbom is an underager, meaning he was still 17 years old at the time of the draft. He turns 18 on July 23rd. Lindbom has plenty of time to improve his game, especially because of our next reason.

Lindbom is almost a lock to play in the World Junior Championships. Last year, he played for the Swedes at the U18 WJCs, and was named the best goaltender in the tournament. He led Sweden to a bronze medal, and was also named to the tournament’s All-Star Team. Also last year, he was a part of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial squad, and earned another bronze medal with Team Sweden. And even before that, in 2016-17 he played in the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. Lindbom and his teammates made it to the top, winning the gold. Lindbom was also named to the All-Star Team at the WHC.

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpnAc3Uwh94″]

This past season, Lindbom split time between Djurgârdens IF’s J18 and J20 teams. He played one game with the J18 team, and 20 with the J20s. In his one game with the J18 team, he shined. He finished the game with 23 saves on 24 shots, a .958 save percentage, and a .99 GAA. Up in the J20, his stats were a little less eye-popping, as he played 20 games, leading up to a .897 save percentage, and a 3.10 GAA. Lindbom seemed to perform much better with kids his own age, as at the U18 WJCs, he had a .949 save percentage, and a 1.66 GAA.

As we can see in the video of Lindbom fighting off a late US surge, he can perform very well when under pressure. He plays very deep in his net, somewhat similar to the Rangers star goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Perhaps the similarities to Lundqvist are what thrilled Allaire and NYR Head Scout Gordie Clark.

After going over these stats and appearances, the selection makes more sense. Now that you have more insight into the Rangers’ newest netminder, has your opinion changed? Sound off in the comments below.

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