The Penguins’ first goalie move of the off-season wasn’t maybe the goalie move that looms over the horizon, but it still could prove to eventually be a crucial one.
The Penguins have signed goaltender Filip Lindberg to a two-year, entry-level contract.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 28, 2021
Lindberg, 22, enjoyed a career year in 2020.21 playing collegiate hockey with the University of Massachusetts.
Details: https://t.co/iOLdF9aREz pic.twitter.com/4RTZ555zTA
If that name sounds the slightest bit familiar, congrats on the recall, we wrote about him here a few weeks ago as a potential target to add skill to a spot that was lacking in the organization:
The Pens have a long history of signing NCAA free agents and developing them into NHL players. They also have a glaring issue on their future depth chart.— PensBurgh (@Pensburgh) July 6, 2021
Can they convince talent like Keith Petruzzelli and Filip Lindberg to join the organization? https://t.co/PfPzqviVGs
The Finnish netminder had a .949 save% this season, he was a former seventh round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2019, but was unable to reach a contract agreement with the Wild and will be free to sign with any NHL team on July 28th. The Wild have a solid young goalie in Kaapo Kahkonen in the NHL, as well as 2019 second rounder Hunter Jones, so it’s pretty understandable why that situation isn’t the best for Lindberg to dive into, when the choice is up to him as to what organization he wants to join.
Lindberg was a very dominant goalie in his three seasons at the NCAA level, including winning the national championship on PPG Paints Arena ice in 2021. Here’s his hockeydb stats:
Sometimes NCAA goalie signings end up like an Eric Hartzell and you never really hear from them again at the highest level. Sometimes they are Casey DeSmith and blossom into an NHL level player. Lindberg’s stat line above speaks to a lot of promise, Minnesota was hoping to sign him but he elected to go the free agency route and choose his own team.
At this point, Lindberg chose wisely. Pittsburgh currently has Tristan Jarry and DeSmith under contract at the AHL level, but little else in the organization. (Congrats to Maxime Lagace for signing with Tampa today, and leaving a legacy [pun intended] of being perfect in Pittsburgh with one game, no goals allowed). Pittsburgh does have Alex D’Orio signed for deep organizational depth, but then no other goalies under contract.
Even though the Pens probably will (and should) be adding another veteran minor league caliber goalie, Lindberg is in line to get a great opportunity in Wilkes-Barre to show off what was really an elite level of play at the NCAA level. Depending on how much transfers to the AHL level, Pittsburgh could have possibly their first dominant AHL goalie since a young Matt Murray was putting up .941% and .931 save% seasons from 2014-16 in Wilkes.
Who knows how the NHL goalie landscape in Pittsburgh shakes out, and for performance or injury reasons it’s not out of the question that Lindberg might be pressed into duty in the NHL level in 2021-22, if the opportunity arises, and he’s the top minor league goalie at the time.
Even if that immediate chance doesn’t open up, Lindberg’s addition to the organization is a huge one, and a very positive one. He’s a “free”, very developed and accomplished young goalie that figures to add a lot of talent to a position where there’s basically a big hole in the organizational ranks. It’s a potential very solid move for the Pens moving forward one day at best, with no real risk or cost if it doesn’t work out.