Is Lindbom the Next in Line to Hank’s Throne?

By: Matthew Blittner
Special Contributor to MSGNetworks

For 13 — soon to be 14 — years, Henrik Lundqvist has manned the Rangers’ net with grace and dignity.

But nothing lasts forever.

Therefore, even though “The King” still has at least a few good years left, the Blueshirts decided to fortify their organizational depth at goalie by drafting Olof Lindbom, 17, in the second-round (39th-overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

[Complete Rangers Draft Coverage]

For Lindblom, it’s not just about trying to fill Lundqvist’s incomparable shoes — he really should get his own. It’s also about trying to keep the royal order of succession in place.

One day — for Rangers fans hopefully not too soon — “The King” will abdicate his throne and it will be up to Lindbom to prove he should be the Prince chosen to inherit Lundqvist’s crease.

It won’t be easy, as Lindbom has the likes of Alexandar Georgiev, Igor Shestyorkin, Brandon Halverson and Adam Huska to deal with.

Steve Valiquette and Bill Pidto discuss Rangers goaltending prospect Igor Shestyorkin, who is tearing it up in the KHL this season.

But if the Stockholm, Sweden native is truly meant to follow in his idol’s footsteps, he’ll do whatever it takes to continue the tradition of having a proud Swedish goalie between the pipes on Seventh Avenue.

“He’s a pretty good talent,” according to one scout who spoke to The Hockey News.

Now, let’s get some background information on Lindbom.

Last season (2017-18), Olof put himself on the prospect map with a strong showing at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship as well as in the Swedish U18 Playoffs.

Playing for Djurgardens U18 in the U18 playoffs, Lindblom posted a 1.20 goals-against-average and .955 save percentage, en route to being named Playoff MVP.

As for the U18 World Championship, Lindbom had a stellar tournament; registering a 1.66 goals-against-average and .949 save percentage. Off the strength of his impressive performances, Lindbom was named the Top Goalie in the tournament and helped Sweden win the bronze medal.

And the cherry on top of his rather impressive resume was Lindbom becoming the first Blueshirts’ netminder to be drafted as high as the second-round since Halverson back in 2014.

But what separates Lindbom from Halverson?

Try Olof’s superior rebound control and sound positioning.

While it’s not smart to jump to conclusions based off small sample sizes, Lindbom was very impressive during his time on the ice during Tuesday’s skills tests.

Lindbom showed off a lightning-quick glove and the ability to close up his five-hole at the drop of a dime.

Again remember this is all based on small sample sizes, so take this with a grain of salt.

Yet, even with such a small sample size, he continues to draw comparisons to Boston’s Tuukka Rask.

“His calmness in net allows him to rise to the occasion,” said another scout who spoke to The Hockey News. “He plays well in big games.”

PLYMOUTH, MI – FEBRUARY 15: Arttu Nevasaari #34 of the Finland Nationals tries to tip a shot past Olof Lindbom #1 of the Sweden Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 15, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

That will prove to be an important trait for Lindbom should he be tabbed as “The Heir to Lundqvist’s Throne.”

In the meantime, he’ll have ample opportunities to try to ascend the Rangers’ depth chart.

And if his past performance is any indication, Lindbom will soon be a prime candidate to enter The King’s Royal Court, before potentially ruling Seventh Avenue himself.

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The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.