Oskar Lindblom

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Flyers’ Oskar Lindblom rings bell after final cancer treatment

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A week after hitting the ice with his teammates for the first time in six months, Oskar Lindblom got to ring the bell marking the end of his chemotherapy treatments.

The 23-year-old Flyers forward was diagnosed in December with Ewing sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, and played only 30 games this season.

On Thursday, Lindblom walked down the hall at Abramson Cancer Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to ring the bell and celebrate with the nurses who took care of him.

“I can’t even explain how I feel,” he told the Flyers website. “It feels I’m having a birthday, Christmas and all those holidays at the same time. It feels awesome to be done. I can’t wait to just get back to normal life again and start feeling like I’m living.”

(Lindblom will not play for the Flyers later this summer if the NHL resumes the 2019-20 season.)

Since being diagnosed, Lindblom received support from all over the hockey community. Players from the Flyers and around the NHL wore#OskarStrong” shirts and he was given a standing ovation when shown on the Jumbotron during a January game.

“From family to friends to fans, I can’t explain how much they’ve meant to me,” said Lindblom, who is the Flyers’ Masterton Trophy nominee. “Especially at the start when it was a rough time and I got all those kind words. It just made me feel so much better, calm, and it really helped along the way.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Oskar Lindblom skates with Flyers for first time since cancer diagnosis

Oskar Lindblom skates with Flyers for first time since cancer diagnosis
via Flyers on Twitter

If you needed a lift, this might do the trick. For the first time since his cancer diagnosis in December, Oskar Lindblom skated with Philadelphia Flyers teammates. Not all of them, of course, because of Phase 2 protocols … but some of them.

And, yeah, it seems pretty glorious.

Personally, I felt concerned about the idea of Lindblom being exposed in a return-to-play scenario. Luckily, it seems like cooler heads will prevail, as the AP’s Stephen Whyno reports that Lindblom won’t play in actual games if the NHL return-to-play plan actually pans out.

With that relief in mind, we can just enjoy the uplifting sight of Lindblom getting back out there. You might even feel like the room is a little “dusty” watching him skate and shoot:

Lindblom optimistic about recovery; Flyers impressed to see him skate

It sounds like Lindblom is making serious progress in dealing with Ewing’s sarcoma.

“They’re going great. I don’t have a lot left,” Lindblom said of his treatments, via Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic. “I’ll have it done soon. I can see the light in the tunnel right now, and I’m trying to enjoy my life after this. I can’t complain. People have it worse, and I’m happy to be where I am right now.”

Like many of us, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher was impressed by what he saw from Lindblom.

“It was great to see him out there,” Fletcher said. “He looked really good on the ice, his hands are still there. It is remarkable to think that with all the treatments that he had had, he was able to go out there today and still show the skill and still have the stamina to skate for about 35-40 minutes. It’s a great sign for him, and very exciting to think that with all going will in the future, he’s going to return to play for us …”

Fletcher spoke about how safe the Flyers’ facilities are, but there’s still some risk involved. Lindblom also has a way to go before he can totally put health concerns behind him.

But overall? This is fantastic to see, especially the sheer joy on Lindblom’s face in the photo on the left:

Most of all, here’s hoping that Lindblom continues on the road to recovery. If he eventually suits up for actual Flyers games — when it’s safe — then that would be even better.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Awards: Bobby Ryan, Oskar Lindblom among 2020 Masterton nominees

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Now that the 2019-20 NHL regular season is officially over, it’s awards season.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association were sent their ballots for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng, and Selke Trophies, as well as the the NHL All-Star and All-Rookie Teams on Monday. (General managers vote for the Vezina Trophy and the NHL Broadcasters’ Association votes on the Jack Adams Award.)

The finalists and results will be announced at some point this summer on a date to be determined by the NHL.

On Monday, the PHWA announced the 31 nominees for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The award is given to the players “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

The 31 nominees are selected by each PHWA chapter.

Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Miller
Arizona Coyotes: Conor Garland
Boston Bruins: Kevan Miller
Buffalo Sabres: Curtis Lazar
Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano
Carolina Hurricanes: James Reimer
Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan Graves
Columbus Blue Jackets: Nathan Gerbe
Dallas Stars: Stephen Johns
Detroit Red Wings: Robby Fabbri
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid
Florida Panthers: Noel Acciari
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick
Minnesota Wild: Alex Stalock
Montreal Canadiens: Shea Weber
Nashville Predators: Jarred Tinordi
New Jersey Devils: Travis Zajac
New York Islanders: Thomas Hickey
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist
Ottawa Senators: Bobby Ryan
Philadelphia Flyers: Oskar Lindblom
Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin
St. Louis Blues: Jay Bouwmeester
San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn
Toronto Maple Leafs: Zach Hyman
Vancouver Canucks: Jacob Markstrom
Vegas Golden Knights: Shea Theodore
Washington Capitals: Michal Kempny
Winnipeg Jets: Mark Letestu

Robin Lehner of the Rangers — sorry, Islanders — won the 2019 award after sharing his struggle with alcohol and mental illness.

There are a number of good cases to be made for players. Johns missed 22 months due to headaches and returned this season to play 17 games; Fabbri suffered two major knee injuries, returned, moved on to Detroit and had a nice season with 14 goals and 31 points; Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac event during a February game; Lindblom has not played for the Flyers since December as he fights Ewing sarcoma; and Ryan stepped away from the Senators to deal with an alcohol problem and netted a hat trick in his first home game back.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Flyers’ Lindblom making progress as he nears end of cancer treatments

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Oskar Lindblom is coming to the end of his treatments for Ewing’s sarcoma, though it’s still unknown if he’ll be able to play for the Flyers next season.

Flyers assistant GM Brett Flahr told The Philadelphia Inquirer this week that the forward, who was diagnosed with the form of bone cancer in December, “looks terrific” and “as he gets his last treatments, the worst is over for him.”

“Oskar’s going through his last treatments coming up here, but everything I’ve been told from [team trainer] Jimmy [McCrossin] has been very positive,” Flahr told Sam Carchidi. “He feels great, considering the condition he’s in. He’s such a great kid and he’s determined. His focus is to play as soon as possible.”

While many players have returned home since the NHL suspended the season on March 12, Lindblom, who hails from Gavle, Sweden, stayed in Philadelphia to undergo treatments at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Since his diagnosis, he’s visited his teammates a few times, and even dropped by during team photo day.

Meanwhile, there’s good news to report on Nolan Patrick, who has not played for the Flyers this season due to a migraine disorder. Flahr said that the 21-year-old forward is feeling better and the longer the NHL goes before resuming the 2019-20 season, the better it is for his chances of being back in the lineup.

“Obviously, it’s going to be catch-up for everybody. If this season goes into the summer, he’s a possibility, for sure,” he said.

MORE: Flyers, fans show support for Oskar Lindblom

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Long-term outlook for Philadelphia Flyers

Long-term outlook for Flyers Provorov Couturier Konecny
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With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

When you look at the Flyers’ core, you should take a moment to appreciate the cleanup job Ron Hextall accomplished. The current regime took the baton and got off to a good run post-Ron, but give credit where it’s due. Hextall inherited a mess.

Now, sure, there are some risks.

One could see how the combination of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes, and James van Riemsdyk could age poorly, and quickly. Concerns about the Flyers becoming the “next Kings/Sharks” are somewhat justified.

Yet … a lot of those risks are mitigated. Giroux’s contract ends after 2021-22, and there’s a strong chance he’ll still be worth the near-$8.3M. JVR and Voracek are both 30, but the terms could be worse. Same goes for Hayes; yes, it’s risky, but he won’t turn 28 until May 8. Chuck Fletcher (and Hextall) is guilty of some gambles, but not at the “slap the deed of your house on the poker stack” level.

Most importantly, nice to outright fantastic bargains give the Flyers leeway to roll the dice. After last season’s hiccup, Ivan Provorov looks like a gem, and a steal at $6.75M. Travis Konecny isn’t far behind at $5M, and both contracts run through 2024-25.

The Flyers really feasted on a deal with Sean Couturier, and the only bummer (for them, not Couturier’s accountant) is that a raise is coming from that $4.33M after 2021-22.

There’s a lot to like about the Flyers’ core, especially if the aging elements don’t rapidly go rotten.

Long-term needs for Flyers

Pondering the long-term needs of the Flyers, it’s clear the team needs some answers.

To start: how much is it going to cost to truly add Carter Hart to the core? The 21-year-old’s entry-level contract expires after 2020-21. Would it be better to lock him down as soon as possible, or see how he performs during a contract year? What kind of money and term would make sense for an extension?

While much of the Hart conundrums boil down to “good problems to have,” the Flyers need to find out about the future for players dealing with health issues. Beyond a frightening situation for Oskar Lindblom, Philly could use some insight on Nolan Patrick and Shayne Gostisbehere.

The latter found himself in trade rumors, yet “Ghost Bear” wasn’t exactly healthy. You don’t necessarily want to sell low on a player who can at least generate offense, and is still reasonably young (26) and generally cheap ($4.5M AAV through 2022-23).

Depth resonates as a need for the Flyers, at least if some of the above situations don’t work out.

Beyond depth, I also wonder: while the Flyers boast a strong core, can they really hang among the best of the best?

Long-term strengths for Flyers

Even as players graduate to regular or semi-regular NHL duty, the Flyers continue to hunt down strong draft prospects. Cam York, Morgan Frost, and Bobby Brink help the Flyers place eighth in Scott Wheeler’s prospect rankings (sub required), for example.

Could those players provide that extra “oomph” for this franchise?

It’s an enticing thought, especially as Travis Sanheim bolsters the bigger names, while Frost, Joel Farabee, and others attempt to make impressions.

The Flyers have a nice mix of veteran stars, budding younger stars like Provorov and Konecny, and those aforementioned intriguing prospects. Hart also made encouraging steps toward being that long lost goalie.

There are reasons to be optimistic about this team’s chances of being competitive for some time. What a difference a year makes, eh?

MORE ON THE FLYERS:
Breaking down their 2019-20 season
Biggest surprises and disappointments

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.