Hopefully the Rangers won’t have considered shopping JT Miller, Kevin Hayes or any of the ‘core’ kids to help address the team’s obvious flaws but one player who has constantly been touted as a trade chip has been Oscar Lindberg. Thanks to the way the Rangers have utilised Lindberg it’s hard to see any kind package involving Lindberg bringing back any meaningful return.
Yes, Alain Vigneault has openly preached patience with Lindberg (and rightly so) as he came back from a significant injury but the fact Vigneault has prioritised Matt Puempel and Josh Jooris is bad roster management. Neither player likely offer the Rangers more upside than Lindberg whether that is as a trade piece or part of the current roster set up. The fact that Vigneault sees Jesper Fast as a top six winger but keeps Lindberg in street clothes is also baffling even though Fast and Lindberg’s respective destinies should not be directly linked. Fast indeed, has certainly deserved to stay in the line-up despite being misused.
No sane Ranger fan would suggest Lindberg is the next coming of Gretzky or even a 20 goal scorer at the NHL level. However, he showed enough last season to suggest he could maybe be a middle six option or, at worst, a solid fourth line center with some offensive upside. It cannot reasonably be argued that he’s been given a chance to re-establish himself since coming back from his injury.
Had Lindberg done enough last season to build up some credit with his coach (pre-injury) and be given a run in the line-up? I feel like he should have. Indeed, I thought the signing of Jooris should merely have been as insurance for Lindberg’s recovery and I haven’t seen enough from Jooris to think he’s a significant upgrade on a healthy Lindberg.
With Lindberg in and (mostly) out of the line-up and without getting any traction this season whatsoever, he has no value outside of the organisation. Besides the fact he has a minimal cap hit and offers a no-risk option for any acquiring franchise, Lindberg hasn’t done anything of note to entice a team into a trade. The thing is, he hasn’t had the chance to re-prove himself. Playing two of the last five games isn’t enough, particularly with minimal ice time.
The Rangers will be reluctant to move any of their core younger players and so they should be. However the team’s depth does negatively effect some players who fall victim to the increased competition and the team’s use of Lindberg is another example, following Dylan McIlrath, of the team mishandling a solid young player who at worst should have been a solid trade chip at the deadline. As it stands now, Lindberg’s Rangers career is stuck in reverse and that’s not good for anyone.