Several teams have shown interest in Canadiens goaltender Charlie Lindgren, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported in an appearance on Sportsnet 960 (audio link). The Panthers are among the teams to inquire as to Montreal’s plans for him despite already having Roberto Luongo, James Reimer, and Michael Hutchinson in the fold.
The 24-year-old is in the first season of a three-year, one-way deal that pays $750K per year. At the time he signed that contract, the belief was that the Canadiens planned to have him serve as the backup for Carey Price this season. However, they instead opted to keep veteran Antti Niemi around for this season and as a result, Lindgren has spent the entire year in the minors, posting a 2.36 GAA and a .894 SV% in 15 appearances with Laval of the AHL.
Lindgren has had some success at the NHL in the past. He has played at least once with Montreal in each of the last three seasons, totalling 17 appearances where he has a respectable 2.78 GAA and a .914 SV%. Some view him as being ready to take on a full-time number two role in the NHL but with him being waiver-exempt this season, their preference was to give him as much playing time as possible in the minors.
Friedman notes that while there are some big-name goaltenders being speculated as potential trade bait, those teams likely don’t want to move those players just yet. Accordingly, he suggests that Lindgren may be the best goalie that could actually be available at this time, adding that the asking price will be particularly high.
With Price signed for seven more years after this one on the richest deal ever given to a goaltender (it carries an AAV of $10.5MM), the Canadiens are going to have to go with a cheap backup which is part of the allure when it comes to Lindgren as his deal sits just $100K above the league minimum salary. As the price of quality veteran backups continues to increase, having that type of cost control in Lindgren is certainly important.
Considering that the only other goalie Montreal has under contract between Price, Niemi, and Lindgren is prospect Michael McNiven who has just 31 AHL games under his belt and isn’t close to being NHL ready, they would likely be looking for a goaltender to be part of any return to give them some insurance in case of injury.
Pending unrestricted free agents like Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus), Jimmy Howard (Detroit), and Semyon Varlamov (Colorado) have drawn most of the attention when it comes to trade speculation so far. However, it appears that Lindgren needs to be added to the list of those that are at least drawing some trade interest around the league.