The second half of the New York Rangers’ 2018-19 season is about to get underway. With it comes several roster-related questions for the streaky, rebuilding team: When will general manager Jeff Gorton pull the trigger on the next anticipated trade? Which veteran will be sent away next? Will the Rangers do anything to clear up logjams? What about the prospects still fighting for a spot on the NHL roster?
That brings us to defenseman Ryan Lindgren, who was recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack on Jan. 14 and played in the Rangers’ three games prior to their week-long break. He impressed in his brief tenure with the NHL club, but was sent back to Hartford during the break so that he could get more ice time. It was a smart choice. As Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post reported, it was assumed, but not guaranteed, that Lindgren will be back with the Blueshirts following the break.
But this past weekend, news broke that he would be staying with the Wolf Pack, while Alexandar Georgiev and Boo Nieves get called up. No official reason has been given by the team, but it appears injury returns and roster scheme have cost Lindgren his big-league return for now. While he may be back in the AHL, he has shown he’s one to watch out for — and he’ll be back in a Rangers uniform soon enough.
Lindgren Fits Quinn’s Rangers
Originally drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Lindgren played two seasons at the University of Minnesota. During that span, he also spent time with the U.S U-18 and World Juniors teams. Before he could play a game for the Bruins organization, however, he was traded to the Rangers last February as part of the package they acquired for Rick Nash. After signing his entry-level contract in late March, he played in five games with Hartford in 2017-18 before rejoining the minor-league squad this season.
Lindgren is not so much a points contributor. Instead, the 6-feet, 200-pound athlete from Minneapolis, Minnesota takes advantage of his speed and physical style to defend and wrestle the puck away from the opposition. And if those characteristics sound familiar, it’s because it’s the game head coach David Quinn wants his players to have.
Lindgren’s positioning and toughness have been on point, earning him praise, and he looked at home under the bright lights. For a team that’s youth-focused and had defensive struggles as of late, Lindgren is a breath of fresh air. The six penalty minutes he racked up in his few NHL games, plus the 49 he’s had in the AHL, can cause some concern of undisciplined play. But for him to go as hard as he’s playing, he’s worth it. Besides, that can be worked on as he gets more experience on the ice.
Rangers brass made a great decision in acquiring Lindgren. In turn, he is showing he’s a good fit for the Rangers’ style of play and is capable of playing on the NHL level and growing.
Pionk’s Return Keeps Lindgren in AHL
So if Lindgren is praised and did well while with the Blueshirts this month, why is he not getting recalled? Unfortunately for him, it appears to be a case of players coming back from injury and the brass trying to figure out the perfect roster. Neal Pionk, as well as Kevin Hayes, appear headed for a return, and the former’s reappearance means the team has to figure out which defensemen they’ll carry and which pairings work.
Lindgren did very well in his first NHL appearances, but he has options on his contract. So while it may be disappointing to see him sent down, it’s not the worst thing in the world, especially if he would have seen a drop in playing time.
It’s also not the first time this season the Rangers have had to figure out what to do with someone who still had options or is fighting for playing time — see Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson. Hopefully the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline will resolve some of these messes for the sake of young blood such as Lindgren.
On paper, it might sound weird that Georgiev and Nieves are getting promoted while Lindgren stays in the AHL. But the Rangers are doing it for his sake, keeping him active and developing. Besides, with the way he’s performing, he’ll be back on the NHL roster soon enough. And considering what he can provide, there’s reason for Rangers fans to be excited and watch him closely.