ST. CLOUD, MN – Things have moved very quickly for Charlie Lindgren in the last 12 days. On March 26, Lindgren was suiting up for an engagement with Ferris State in the NCAA West Regional in Saint Paul, MN. With an eye on SCSU’s second trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in three years it all came crashing down within 18 seconds of overtime in a 5-4 loss to the Bulldogs. Within four days, on March 30th, Lindgren inked a two-year entry level deal with the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL. Somewhat of a surprise to some, many thought he’d sign with the Minnesota Wild, on the surface a logical choice due to proximity to the Wild’s AHL farm team and the fact Lindgren had attended the Wild’s camp the summer before.
But, if you look deeper into this it was most likely a deal he couldn’t refuse – more specifics here. First of all, entry level contracts are pretty template and Charlie did get a maximum offer. But, what also is intriguing is that the Canadiens agreement to basically “burn” the first year of the contract signing him to a two-year deal starting in 2015/16. He’ll get a pro-rated NHL salary for the time he’s with the club the balance of this season and then has another year on his contract in 2016/17 after which he’ll be able to negotiate a standard contract. A pretty decent deal if Lindgren is able to prove his worth to the organization over the next season. Icing on the cake was the rumor that Lindgren would get a game with the Habs before the season ended. And, to Montreal’s credit, it turned out to be true as Lindgren will be on the ice for Montreal as they face the Carolina Hurricanes on the road tonight (April 7) at 6:00 PM CT.
However, before you start complimenting the Canadiens too much about there generosity, realize the season is over for the Habs in two games and there really is no downside to this decision. Or, as described the other night by the team’s network commentators during intermission that these are “useless” games. It was determined starter Carey Price simply wasn’t ready to play in any of the last five games leaving the goaltending duties to current second -stringer Mike Condon. Obviously the Canadiens see upside potential in Lindgren (or they wouldn’t have signed him to the deal they did) and it’ll give them the opportunity to get a look at their current third-string goaltender at the highest level of play. For Lindgren, a good outing puts him in an advantageous position heading into the 2016-17 season and an otherwise result places him with the St. John’s Ice Caps, the Montreal AHL team where he’d most likely be anyways next season.
I can’t imagine the thrill Lindgren will feel as he skates out onto the ice at 18,000 seat PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC tonight. It’ll be a moment he’ll remember the rest of his life as he begins his journey into professional hockey. Those of us that enjoyed his competitiveness and success while he was a Husky will be pulling for him tonight in Raleigh.
For those that do not have a subscription to the NHL on Demand Network and wish to watch the game the best bet is to buy the game via NHL.com unless somehow you have access to Fox Carolinas.
Update: In a night to remember, Charlie Lindgren stopped 26 of 28 SOG and earned his first NHL win in his debut performance – a 4-2 road win over the Carolina Hurricanes. His post-game interview is here
Game story is here