By Uffe Bodin
Sweden | Group A | Roster | THN odds to win: 4:1 It might seem like a luxury to be placed alongside two of the best players in the league. It’s a spot where you can pick up freebies and boost your stats with points you don’t really have to work for. If only it were that simple. Truth is, it takes a certain kind of player to complete a top line with two other stars. Oskar Lindblom is that kind of player. He’s not the flashiest guy on the ice, but thanks to his sneakiness and smarts, he’s often put on top lines, whether it’s on one of the Swedish League’s most productive units with Greg Scott and Anton Rodin on a surprisingly good Brynas squad or on the Swedish world juniors team with William Nylander and Axel Holmstrom.
“I guess I’m not the guy who holds onto the puck the longest, although it’s a part of the game that I’ve improved,” said Lindblom, a 19-year-old left winger. “I try to do a lot of the dirty work, pave the way for the other guys and be at the right place at the right time. One of my main strengths is that I’m good around the net, so there’s where I try to find the right spots.” In Toronto at last year’s World Junior Championship, Lindblom was second in scoring on Team Sweden after linemate Nylander, notching four goals and nine points in seven games. After a really strong start to the SHL season, where Lindblom has been the top point producer among junior-aged players, he’s slotted for another key role for the Swedes in Helsinki come Christmas time. “He’s a guy that has always produced for us,” said Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg. “He might not be the player that sticks out the most, but he’ll still leave the game with a few points.” Lindblom hopes the outcome of this year’s tournament will be better than in Toronto, where Sweden lost to underdog Slovakia in the bronze medal game. “There’s a feeling of revenge to the whole thing,” he said. “You want to go there and do better than last year. It really seems like we’ll have a good team this time around, a lot of returning players, guys that learned a lot last year about what it takes. It looks really good.” The Philadelphia Flyers drafted him in the fifth round, 138th overall, in 2014. After participating in two consecutive development camps with the Flyers, it sounds as if he’s tempted to give hockey in North America a shot in a year or two. “It all depends on what the Flyers think I should do,” he said. “If they sign me, they might want to keep me here in Sweden for another season to make more progress. At the same time, I’ve taken some good steps in my development this year, so we’ll see. When that day comes, I’m sure it’s going to be a tough decision.”