Martini: What To Do With Lindy?
What do Anders Lindback and the Black Eyed Peas have in common? They have both been wondering ‘Where is the love?’ Now I doubt Lindback could rap like Will.i.am or sing like Fergie but I do think he has a point. Lately, when you think about Anders, you think of a backup goaltender who plays behind Ben Bishop. Let’s take a closer look at a few things. What did the Tampa Bay Lightning give up to get him? How has he played in a Bolts sweater? What is his ceiling and is he growing as a player? (Photo/Susan Ferlita)
Being in someone’s shadow has never been an easy for Lindback. Standing at a staggering 6 foot 6 inches and weighing in at over 200 pounds, he has always been sizable. For the time being though, he is stuck in the shadow of the bigger Ben Bishop.
In June of 2012 the Bolts pulled the trigger on a trade that many hoped would solve the Lightning goaltender woes. In a seven player trade, the Lightning sent two 2012 second-round draft picks, a 2013 third-round pick and the rights to goalie Sebastien Caron to Nashville. In return, the team obtained Lindback, Kyle Wilson and a 2012 seventh-round pick. A few years later, we have the chance to see how the draft picks fell and where they are now. The first of the two second round picks in 2012, number 37 overall, was used on Pontus Aberg, who is still playing in Sweden. The other second-round pick, number 50 overall, was used to take Colton Sissons, who is still currently playing in the WHL for the Kelowna Rockets. As for the 2013 third- round pick, that resulted in the Predators taking Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, a defenseman playing for the Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL currently. Now to the Bolts side of the trade. The Lightning obtained an NHL-ready goaltender, a depth center who played some time for Syracuse and then was traded for Dan Sexton. That 2012 seventh-round pick was used on Nikita Gusev who is currently playing in the KHL. Now that the chips have fallen, was it too steep a price to pay for Lindback?
Since coming to Tampa Bay in 2012 Lindback has been less than stellar. Between the lockout shortened season and being relegated to a backup role he has attempted to make the most of it. With 36 games played for the Lightning (starting in 31 of them) he has posted a 13-17-2 record with a save percentage hovering below .900. There is one big thing to remember though, Lindback is still young at 25 and is a restricted free agent at the end of this year.
With his stats where they are, Lindback has made strides this year with the Bolts. Last season it seemed that Lindback would allow at least one soft goal a game. So far, this season, those seem to becoming fewer and far between. Also he has not accepted his mediocre performance quietly. He has recently come out and made it public that he will continue to work hard in practice and make the most of his starts. Since saying this, he has played well and battled in his starts. Coach Jon Cooper wants to get him at least one start per week. The ceiling on Lindback seems to be really high and with his work ethic he could work his way back into the 1B role Steve Yzerman had originally planned when he acquired Bishop.
Tampa Bay got the better end of the Lindback deal whether if they move him or keep him as a back up until Vasilevskiy is ready. He is a netminder still growing into his game and could be a valuable piece if they package him with a pick or a prospect for a player they need for a deep playoff run.
This leads to the real question. With Russian Andrey Vasilevskiy probably two years away from playing with the Bolts, what will the Lightning do with Anders Lindback after this season? Do they re-sign him to a two-year bridge contract or do they try and trade him with his pending restricted free agent tag in a package for a player at the deadline? Only GM Steve Yzerman knows that answer.
(Feature Box photo/Slidingsideways)
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