A new report claims the Las Vegas Golden Knights likely select center Oscar Lindberg in tonight’s expansion draft.
With 25-year-old Swedish center Oscar Lindberg rumored Vegas bound, it appears the Rangers may need to find a new fourth line center.
Las Vegas is set to take one player from each of the other 30 NHL teams in tonight’s expansion draft. The Rangers chose not to protect Lindberg along with a group of players headlined by goalie Antti Raanta and wingers Michael Grabner and Jesper Fast.
Center Depth Could Take a Hit
Lindberg firmly established himself as the Rangers’ fourth line center this season. Though the team couldn’t afford to protect Lindberg, his play improved throughout the year. If the Las Vegas does select him, Lindberg finishes his Rangers career with 21 goals and 27 assists in 134 regular season games.
Lindberg’s especially strong performance in the 16-17 playoffs may have sealed his fate. While three goals and four points in 12 games don’t jump off the scoresheet, the center led all Ranger skaters with his 57.7 corsi for percentage. This means the team took 57.7 percent of shot attempts with Lindberg on the ice.
Before joining the Ranger organization, the Arizona Coyotes drafted Lindberg in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The Rangers first acquired Lindberg in a 2011 trade with the Arizona for prospect Ethan Werek. After the move to New York, Lindberg made his NHL debut with the Rangers in the 14-15.
Waiting for Deals
TSN reporter Fran Seravelli claims not to know if this selection comes as part of a trade. While currently just a rumor, Lindberg’s departure means the Rangers avoid losing both last season’s leading goal scorer (Grabner) and their backup goalie (Raanta).
New York Post beat reporter Larry Brooks says Las Vegas definitely will not choose Raanta. With starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist missing time to injury, Raanta established himself as a fan favorite this season as he played 30 games. He posted a .922 save percentage over that stretch.
Raanta may now become trade bait as the Rangers look to improve their blue line. While the backup netminder’s play likely warrants a starting role, the Rangers can’t give him one. With Lundqvist firmly entrenched, look for the front office to add a new backup.
Meanwhile, Grabner likely remains a presence in the Rangers’ lineup and penalty kill. While he may not match this year’s 27 goals, his speed remains a potent threat.
Though Lindberg leaves behind a hole, the Rangers continue to boast one of the NHL’s deepest forward groups. While major challenges lie ahead fixing the team’s defense, general manager Jeff Gorton’s offseason just got a little tougher.