It’s been nearly a month since NHL free agency opened and a number of notable players remain unsigned, including 13 of PHR’s Top 50 Free Agents. Given the slow-moving nature of the market and the limited cap space that many teams are dealing with, it’s no surprise that a role player like Oscar Lindberg, ranked No. 47 on our list, remains unsigned.
With that said, Lindberg could prove to be a surprise steal once he does find his next team. The 27-year-old forward has been a consistent bottom-six contributor in each of his four NHL seasons, but finally showed some top-six upside in a late-season stop with the Ottawa Senators. Lindberg earned career-high minutes in Ottawa and recorded five goals and eight points in 20 games, a 20-goal and 33-point full season pace. He also returned to playing center, his natural position from his start with the New York Rangers but a role he was not given while with the Vegas Golden Knights. A relatively young player to be available on the open market and who has the potential to keep improving beyond just a defensive forward role, a team interested in Lindberg could wind up with a middle-six center at a good value at this point in the off-season.
Much like in Ottawa, Lindberg’s ceiling will be highest in a situation where there is room for him to compete for a top-six or at least top-nine role. A team that still needs help up front is likely the most realistic scenario salary-cap wise as well. It’s possible that a contender could look at Lindberg for a bottom-six role if the price is right, but more likely a rebuilding club will be enticed by the reliable defensive play and offensive upside that he can bring to make a superior offer.
Among the teams that could look at Lindberg more closely as the off-season wears on are the New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, and Minnesota Wild. All three clubs could really use some more depth up front and have room for Lindberg to compete for a key role. On top of that, they all have the cap space to accommodate a potential contract.
Other interested teams who may look at Lindberg as more of bottom-six depth piece could include the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets.
In our Top 50 projections, we expected that Lindberg would land a two-year deal with a $2.1MM AAV. At this point in the summer, a multi-year deal seems less likely. However, it’s hard to see the salary dropping off by much. Lindberg made $1.7MM on his last contract and set a career high in ice time this past season, as well as recording 20 points in 55 games. If anything, his previous salary should be the low mark on a possible deal with something closer to the $2.1MM projection still the more likely result. It’s a salary range that teams in Europe would be happy to match to add a player of Lindberg’s ability, so interested NHL teams may have a hard time trying to drive the price down. Unless Lindberg is dead set on staying in North America at all costs, he should be able to negotiate a fair deal before the start of next season.