Ryan Lindgren’s report card this season is one of a pleasant surprise. When the NY Rangers made him the primary target in the Rick Nash trade a few years ago, it was questioned. In college, Lindgren was viewed as a one-dimensional, defense only defenseman. He certainly carried a big bite to his game, something the Rangers lacked on the blue line. But the lack of offense was a concern.
Lack of offense is assumed to mean lack of puck moving skills. And boy did Lindgren change many people’s minds. Lindgren played particularly well when paired with Adam Fox, but Fox is something special. What surprised many was Lindgren’s poise with the puck and ability to make the first pass to get out of the zone.
Lindgren is far from a perfect defenseman. However his defense proved to be some of the best on the team this year. That was certainly a pleasant surprise, as this goes beyond just defending in the zone. If the puck were a grenade on his stick, then these numbers wouldn’t look so good. It is also worth noting that Lindgren worked hard on his skating, and that is likely the main catalyst to his strong NHL showing this year.
Offensively though, Lindgren still has some work to do. He’s not an offensively minded player, which is fine. Ideally, he’s able to chip in a little more as he gets more comfortable in the NHL.
While Lindgren doesn’t panic with the puck, his exit strategy does need significant work. Now part of this may be deferring to Adam Fox to exit the zone, and part of it is that this isn’t really his wheelhouse. That may be why the pair works so well together. That said, I’d expect Lindgren’s numbers to get better with time. He’s compared to Marc Staal here to eliminate the Staal comparisons, since Lindgren is miles better.
Lindgren had a solid rookie year for the Rangers, one that far exceeded expectations. He’s still developing, and the hope is that he becomes more well rounded by adding some offense to his game. As long as the puck isn’t a grenade on his stick, then he should be fine. It’s all about three zone hockey these days.
Ryan Lindgren Report Card Grade: B