Swedish goaltender Anders Lindback is headed home. After months spent hoping an NHL opportunity would arise, Lindback has finally made the decision to go overseas to continue his hockey career. Over the past few weeks, rumors and speculation have predicted the move, but today Lindback officially signed with Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League, the top pro league in Sweden.
Originally drafted by the Nashville Predators, a steal by GM David Poile in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL Draft, Lindback made a name for himself as the sturdy, young backup to Pekka Rinne. One of the larger goalies in the NHL at 6’6″, 200 lbs., teams saw the youthful Lindback as a bona-fide future starter. However, it didn’t play out that way. Lindback signed on to be the starter for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012, but that never came to fruition. Lindback’s performance was lacking, and he ended up splitting time with Mathieu Garon in 2012-13, before being supplanted by Ben Bishop in 2013-14. After back-to-back seasons with a 2.90 GAA and more losses than wins, Lindback left Tampa having missed his opportunity. Lindback joined the Dallas Stars for 2014-15, but was traded mid-season for fellow disappointment Jhonas Enroth. He played the best hockey of his NHL career in 16 appearances for the Sabres, but it still wasn’t enough to earn him a starter role. Last season, Lindback played in 19 games for the Arizona Coyotes and had a career-worst .894 SV% and 3.11 GAA. Unable to even find a guaranteed contract this summer, Lindback joined the New Jersey Devils on a tryout agreement in training camp, but did not make the team. He then signed another PTO, this time with the Los Angeles Kings, who had lost Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff. However, the Kings decided to stick with their emergency backup duo of Peter Budaj and Jack Campbell, sending Lindback to the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Lindback left the team recently, signaling what very well could be the end of his pro career in North America at just age 28.
Ironically, Lindback’s new position with Rogle BK may include some adversity as well. Although he is likely to step in as the starter immediately, he will not be without competition. The team has two noteworthy young goalies, Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Oscar Dansk and Boston Bruins property Lars Volden, already on the roster. The 22-year-old Dansk, a 2012 second-round pick by Columbus, was drafted out of Sweden after dominating at the junior level in his home country. However, Dansk failed to live up to expectations, with moderate to below-average numbers in the OHL, AHL, and even ECHL, before returning to Sweden. Now in his second season with Rogle BK, Dansk continues to disappoint, posting a 2.85 GAA and .907 SV% in 20 games thus far. Dansk’s backup, Volden, has never made the trip across the Atlantic to try his hand at North American hockey. Instead, the Bruins 2011 sixth-rounder has bounced around various leagues in Europe over his career and has been a member of the Norwegian national team as well. Volden finally settled in with Rogle BK a few years ago, but has not showed signs of improvement. Although his career stats are not as blemished as Dansk’s, he has not faced the same level of competition and has been wildly pedestrian. Volden has put up very similar numbers to Dansk the past two years, which is to say that he has not done enough to unseat the struggling starter. While the duo is consistent, they are consistently average which prompted the team to bring in the veteran Lindback for a boost.
Another interesting note on Rogle BK: playing in front of Lindback will be none other than top 2017 NHL Draft prospect Timothy Liljegren. Considered by many to be second only to Nolan Patrick in the upcoming entry draft and a foregone conclusion as the first defenseman off the board, Liljegren is a rare talent at just 17 years old. With a more experienced and reliable keeper in net now, Rogle BK can give Liljegren more ice time and more responsibility, which can only help the young blue liner’s draft stock.