Most Flames fans know Ryan Lomberg from his brief appearances at development camp and the Young Stars tournament. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps you remember him as the guy who was as small and as speedy as Johnny Gaudreau, but prefers punching taller dudes in the face rather than dangling around them.
Until recently he wasn’t Flames property, but the club did reward him with an ELC after two years with the ECHL and AHL teams. What could be next for the spark plug?
Lomberg has been quietly good no matter where he’s been. After leading the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) in scoring in 2012, he headed to the University of Maine for his draft year. Although not outstanding on the scoresheet (34-7-7-14), he finished fourth on his team in points, one of two freshmen to crack the top five. His next year was a minor improvement, finishing the season with 18 points in 32 games.
After the 2013-14 season, he was dismissed from the program after an altercation that resulted in criminal charges. He returned to the USHL while waiting for a potential NCAA return, putting up a quiet 43-point season with the Youngstown Phantoms. Instead of an NCAA return, he found himself with an AHL contract at the beginning of the 2015-16 season. He played the majority of that season in the ECHL, finishing fourth in scoring with 35 points in 43 games. He also made a cameo with the Stockton Heat, appearing in 15 games and scoring three points.
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Lomberg was the only Heat player to play in all 68 games, which is good news. Although a third liner (his most common linemate was Brandon Bollig), he has some pretty good production. He also earned enough trust to be used in powerplay and shorthanded situations.
Lomberg slowed down after a pretty hot start to the season, but was one of the most consistent Heat players on a week-to-week basis. I wouldn’t be too concerned about him dipping from the year previous because he was a first liner in the ECHL and a third liner in the AHL. If he had a few more minutes on the ice, he might be hovering around that 20 NHLe mark.
We went to Stockton Heat play-by-play voice Brandon Kisker for his thoughts on Lomberg. First up, how has Lomberg handled transitions from league to league? Which aspects are translatable to the next level?
His toughness and speed are apparent. His tenacity is other worldly. His drive is that of the same ilk of Garnet Hathaway and I’d assume Mark Giordano. If he can work on his skills, shooting, dekeing, puck control, he’s going to be a real nice player for the Flames rather soon. He’s not afraid of anything and goes to work/battle every night. Over a long season, you see a guy take a night off or two where they may have been unnoticeable. Not the case with Ryan. You notice him every shift. His work ethic is absolutely incredible and I, along with the entire city of Stockton, was so proud and excited to see him earn that NHL contract.
And what about Lomberg makes him stand out from the other “energy” guys employed by the Heat?
Probably his toughness because otherwise I think he’s taken a few things from a few of those kinds of players over the last two seasons. There’s a little Turner Elson, mixed with a little Garnet Hathaway and a dash of Brandon Bollig and Mike Angelidis in there, but he’s really his own player. He’s got the speed that exceeds I think all of these players and a toughness that comes close to that of Bollig’s. He can fight, he can play solid defensively and he’s going to be in that same mold of Hathaway and Ferland where he will hit anything. I think he’s got to learn to pick his spots (a couple games he got into some penalty trouble) but other than that I’m very excited for the future of Ryan Lomberg.
It wasn’t really surprising that the Flames signed Ryan Lomberg. He’s everything they want from a bottom six player: feisty, speedy, tough, penalty killing ability, and with some offensive talents. If he was right-handed, he would probably be ahead of Garnet Hathaway on the recall list.
Regardless if Hathaway is here or not next year, Lomberg is probably a dark horse for an NHL spot next season. There’s some serious firepower ahead of him, but if none of them impress, Lomberg certainly will. He’s like a mixture of Micheal Ferland and Paul Byron, two similar players who have been key parts of the Flames’ bottom six in recent years. The team salivates over guys like Lomberg, and that’s why they’ve kept close tabs on him.
But he still is a dark horse. The Flames could and probably want to graduate some of their more eagerly anticipated talent next year, so they’ll probably get preference. Regardless, he has a strong chance of being called up at any point in the season next year, so we can look forward to that.
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