News broke yesterday that Jesper Fast will be out for 2-3 weeks with a Grade 1 knee sprain. Losing Fast is a bigger loss than most realize, as Fast had been a key cog in the bottom six. He has shown the ability to play up on the third line and drive puck possession. He has shown he can play a shutdown role on the fourth line. He has been one of the team’s top penalty killers. He has also been inducted into Alain Vigneault’s Circle of Trust.

Considering the need to find another center, preferably one that can win faceoffs, perhaps the answer is in Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg, acquired from Arizona in 2011 for Ethan Werek, has been one of the Hartford Wolf Pack’s best forwards this season. Actually, I’d say he’s been the best forward not named Chris Bourque. In 46 games this season, Lindberg has been logging big time minutes in Hartford and has responded with a line of 13-18-31. He is second on the team (to Bourque) in all three categories.

From accounts of those that watch him regularly, Lindberg is significantly more aggressive this season. From Adam Herman at Blueshirt Banter:

He seems more active and engaged every shift. Last season it felt like Lindberg was waiting for the play to come to him, whereas this season he’s actively looking to make plays with the puck. The “eye test” makes it clear that Lindberg is shooting more, and the stats confirm it; he’s averaging 2.95 shots every game, whereas last season he was averaging only 2.32. Aside from that, he continues to be a great defensive center who plays PK minutes and is excellent in the faceoff circle.

This seems to be the player the Rangers need to round out their forward depth, perhaps as the 4LW alongside Dominic Moore and Lee Stempniak. One of the best aspects of last year’s fourth line was that they were incredible defensively, could win faceoffs (which Moore does and Lindberg can do), and can move the play up the ice.

Even without the Fast injury, Lindberg has likely done enough to unseat Tanner Glass in the lineup. But with the injury, it compounds the issue further: The Rangers need a fourth line that can play those shutdown minutes, like they had last season. J.T. Miller isn’t suited for that role either. But Lindberg is.

Of course playing Lindberg isn’t a guarantee of any sorts. He may work out, he may not. But he’s certainly worth the look before making a trade. Lindberg is free. A trade costs assets. What do the Rangers have to lose at this point?

Mentioned in this article:

More About: