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Could Oscar Lindberg be part of a trade for a defenseman?

Bobby Bevilacqua

oscar-lindberg-full-body-profile-11-21

Yesterday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers saw Matt Puempel make his debut as a Ranger just three days after he was claimed off of waivers. He had no points and a minus-five rating in 13 games with the Senators, but Vigneault gave him an opportunity on the fourth line.

It wound up paying off, as the 23-year-old former first round pick played a pretty good game, skating for 12 minutes and scoring a goal. Puempel described himself as an offensive player (213 points in 195 OHL games) and that he was looking forward to a fresh start. Perhaps that’s just what he needed, as a change of scenery can do wonders for a player.

But Puempel’s insertion into the lineup meant that Oscar Lindberg was the healthy scratch. Lindberg has played mostly out of necessity because of injuries, and has only appeared in nine of the team’s 22 games, recording no goals and one assists.

Lindberg was the team’s best player to start last season, scoring four goals in the Rangers first three games. However, he would cool down considerably of the course of the season, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists for a total of 28 points in 68 games. That’s a pretty good point output for a rookie season, but keep in mind that 17 of his 28 points came in his first 27 games played.

Lindberg doesn’t seem to fit into Alain Vigneault’s up tempo style that the team is employing this season. With four true skill lines, he seems to be the odd man out. Lindberg is still a good talent and he has his place, but if Puempel continues to play well, Lindberg’s place may not be on this team.

Lindberg is now 25 and getting too old to call a prospect anymore. The Rangers have so much depth and talent now, including guys like Boo Nieves in Hartford that can fulfill Lindberg’s role. At this point, Jeff Gorton would be better off trading him to a team that could use his skills and his cap friendly contract in order to help solve the Rangers’ biggest problem – defense.

The Rangers still do not have a true top pairing defenseman to put next to Ryan McDonagh. Dan Girardi has been better this season but is not good enough or quick enough to handle top pairing minutes. Kevin Klein has had a truly awful season so far and looks nothing like he did the last two seasons. Brady Skjei has been excellent and should honestly be playing 20+ minutes a night, but he is still developing and AV might not want to use him on his off side.

While Lindberg alone couldn’t fetch the type of defenseman that the Rangers need, he could certainly be part of a package to get that kind of player. With Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich, Kevin Hayes and JT Miller all occupying roster spots, the Rangers have way more prospects than they do roster spots. And with the team about to begin drafting in the first round again, they’ll be able to replenish their farm system.

I don’t think the Rangers should trade for Kevin Shattenkirk, or a big name defenseman like that. The Rangers should be focused more on the long term rather than rentals in my opinion. And with Shattenkirk, he’ll be a free agent after this season. If you really want him, go after him then and don’t use resources to have him for two months.

I really don’t think he’s available, but a trade for Dougie Hamilton would solve both long and short term problems. He’s only 23 and under contract through the 2020-21 season. He would certainly help offensively and be an excellent partner for Ryan McDonagh for a long time. That would also allow for Dan Girardi to move to the third pairing with Nick Holden and to have Kevin Klein as the spare defenseman.

A trade for Hamilton would be a true blockbuster and one that I’m not quite sure will happen. I think they would be fine if they took a similar approach to their 2013-14 trade deadline when they initially acquired Kevin Klein. I think the Rangers would be fine if they traded for someone that can eat up minutes and is defensively responsible. If they can chip in offensively, that would be even better.

Perhaps they are interested in an Anaheim Ducks’ defenseman after all, or maybe they’ll go back to Colorado and try and get Tyson Barrie. Or perhaps Gorton goes after a younger player like Matt Dumba, who has been rumored to be on the move since last year. But they would also do well in acquiring another player like Nick Holden – steady defensively, has enough talent to chip in offensively, and comes at a team friendly cap hit.

Whether it’s a blockbuster trade or a smaller move that would address the defensive deficiencies, Oscar Lindberg’s usage and skillset suggests that he could be a trade chip.

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Posted on November 26, 2016, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Watching Shattenkirk on a semi-regular basis, not impressed with his defense at all. He may get points but turns the puck over a lot and misses coverage a lot as well. Don’t see any improvement over what they have in getting him under any circumstances. Barrie would cost a great deal, same as Hamilton. I don’t see any big moves right now, team is playing well overall, need to see how things develop, injuries, etc. Lindberg will still get a shot to play, gives AV the option to sit guys who have bad stretches to send a message, rest guys who need it. Way too condensed a schedule this year, so that players may need a night off here and there.

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