The New York Rangers have two prospects vying for a possible spot on the team’s roster for the upcoming 2015-2016 season – Swedish center/wing Oscar Lindberg and American defenseman Brady Skjei. Both players have shown a lot of promise this preseason and should have Rangers fans excited about what they can bring to the table this season or down the road.
The 23-year-old Lindberg, is making a strong case so far to make the team. However, he must learn the wing position to make this team because the Rangers’ acquisition of Jarret Stoll at center makes Lindberg more likely to play on the wing.
The good news for New York is that Lindberg has been comfortable on the wing with the help of Stoll, and even added a goal and assist last week against the Philadelphia Flyers and tallied a goal in the preseason opener against New Jersey. Lindberg appeared to have chemistry in Philadelphia with Stoll and newly acquired winger Viktor Stalberg from the Nashville Predators.
#NYR Oscar Lindberg finished tonight's game with two points (1 G, 1 A), three SOG, two hits, one BKS, and a plus-two rating. in 17:02 TOI.
— Sean Hartnett (@HartnettHockey) September 23, 2015
Lindberg has also showed he can contribute on special teams as the young Swede was on the top penalty killing unit Wednesday night in Boston. Lindberg and Stoll did an admirable job and even combined for a shorthanded goal when Lindberg set up the veteran. Lindberg is a player that other clubs will be watching, and may not clear waivers if sent back down to the minors.
The time for Lindberg in New York may be now or never. I believe Lindberg should be on the New York Rangers’ main roster this season. I see him as becoming a reliable third and fourth line depth wing that plays on the penalty kill unit as well.
Skjei is one of the Rangers top prospects and was a first round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Despite being selected in 2012, Skjei is the only player the Rangers selected in the first round in the last three years. The 2013 pick was traded to Columbus in the Rick Nash deal and the 2014 and 2015 first-round pick were sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Martin St. Louis trade.
Skjei is a very good skater and defensive defenseman that has offensive upside. He showed that offensive upside in Boston by contributing a goal and an assist.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) September 24, 2015
The Rangers in the past have rushed defenseman to the league that were not ready and it hurt their development as players. I believe Michael del Zotto is an example of this, despite his early success. The Rangers should be smart about Skjei’s development, allow him to play top pairing minutes this year in the AHL, adjust to pro hockey and then call him up next season.
I am a 2015 graduate of Montclair State University in New Jersey. I have coached ice hockey at the high school level for two seasons here in NJ. I will be covering the Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward for The Hockey Writers.