On May 6, the New York Rangers announced that forward Oscar Lindberg underwent successful bilateral hip surgery.
The news came as somewhat of a surprise, as there had not been any rumblings of this type of injury with Lindberg earlier. In any event, while the surgery was a success, Lindberg’s expected recovery time of six months represents a setback for the Rangers (not to mention the player).
An Explanation for Lindberg’s Decline?
While it is not known if there was anything more that precipitated this surgery besides wear and tear, such an ailment is a possible explanation for Lindberg’s decline in offensive production as the season progressed. After getting off to a hot start with 10 goals in his first 27 games, Lindberg scored just three more goals in the rest of the regular season. While his early scoring pace was ultimately going to slow down, the severity of the drop-off was certainly curious.
Interestingly, the initial thought upon this news breaking that Lindberg’s frequent late-season scratches might have been the result of an injury was soon quelled by Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) May 6, 2016
The six-month prognosis means Lindberg will miss the first month or so of the next regular season, barring a faster-than-expected recovery. Furthermore, even when he returns, he will likely need some time to return to top form.
While he is out, the Rangers will need to find another way to fill out their fourth line in, as it stands to reason that Dominic Moore, a pending unrestricted free agent, will very likely not be back, thus giving Lindberg an opportunity to own the center position for that line.
For a team that only briefly established an effective fourth line when the much-maligned Tanner Glass played decent hockey (only to later return to being an ineffective player), Lindberg’s injury represents another hurdle in the Rangers’ attempt to solidify their forward lines.
New York is constrained by the salary cap, so Lindberg’s low cap hit gives them some value. In plugging this hole for the first month of the season, the Rangers will have to be cost-conscious, but not sacrifice too much in terms of the effectiveness of the player. Of course, the direction they choose to go in with respect to their fourth line is also largely dependent on the other, more significant roster decisions they make. General manager Jeff Gorton has his work cut out for him, and Lindberg’s surgery might just add another small wrinkle to his plans.