After the Matthew Lombardi and Lee Stempniak signings, Rangers fans hailed them as “no risk” acquisitions because both salaries fall below the $925,000 mark and, according to the new CBA, can be buried in AHL without counting against the big club’s cap if each player fails to impress in camp.
I’m not so sure I agree, as it’s always a gamble when trying to turn lemons into the lemonade. Especially when you already have some beers in the fridge.
Potential dead weight holding up the development of NHL ready prospects is the straightest path towards regression in the NHL, so there’s plenty of reason to give pause before celebrating Glen Sather’s attempts to catch lightning in a bottle for the second straight season (see Beniot Pouliot).
Even with Lombardi and Stempniak arriving in New York looking for their own personal Redemption Song, most Rangers fans consider the third line center position JT Miller’s to lose. However, they might keep another highly touted prospect from landing a roster spot in camp, namely Oscar Lindberg.
As Adam mentioned in his outstanding prospect rankings, Lindberg had a rough start to his North American pro career last season while he acclimated himself to the smaller rinks and increased physical play in the AHL. But when the calendar changed to 2014, the Swedish center proved why the Rangers traded for him two seasons ago as he tallied 28 points in his final 44 games after just 15 in his first 31.
Lindberg recently said in an interview with Hockey Sverige that while it was frustrating not playing in the NHL he felt his time in the AHL afforded him the opportunity to develop his game.
He also pointed to his experience being around the Rangers during their playoff series against Montreal as being very positive.
In evaluating his game after the season, Lindberg says his play was uneven and pointed to one aspect he’d like to improve on (via Norran)…
“I want to get better speed. I have noticed how important speed is [in North America] on the tighter the ice.”
Lindberg has spoken with Rangers European scout Anders Hedberg this offseason, who told the 22-year old that the organization would like to see him concentrate on his training this summer by adhering to the Blueshirts offseason regiment (Hockey Sverige)…
“I have been told that a program of Rangers I will follow, and we are a whole bunch here in Sweden who are trying to keep going along this summer.”
Lindberg added that the departures of Brad Richards and Beniot Pouliot have opened up opportunities, but it’s up to him to take advantage.
Sounds to me like Lindberg is coming to camp with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. I love it!
Because of the Rangers ability to bury Lombardi and Stempniak’s contracts in the AHL, I wouldn’t completely rule out Lindberg making the roster out of camp, plus there’s still a realistic chance he could beat out Miller for the third line center position, but I’d say the odds of him being in the opening night line-up just took a major hit with these additions.