Filip Lindberg will return from a season-ending ankle injury and add another talented prospect to the Penguins’ crowded goaltending pool in 2022-23.
Related: 2022 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed
#10: Filip Lindberg
2021 Ranking: 8
Age: 23 (January 31, 1999)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/185 lbs.
Acquired Via: 2021 NCAA free agent signing (originally drafted in 2019 NHL Draft - Round 7 - Pick 197 by the Minnesota Wild)
Maybe Lindberg was still riding high from winning the NCAA championships with the University of Massachusetts earlier this year, because he made 30 saves on 31 shots in his AHL debut on October 26, 2021.
The now-23-year-old goaltender could have begun playing professionally when he was drafted in 2019, but he wanted to continue in college hockey for a few more years because he “just wanted to be ready” for the AHL.
He certainly seemed ready, because after his debut he went on to win his next three starts, earning the title of AHL Goaltender of the Month during his first-ever month in the league.
With a 4-0-0 record, 1.71 GAA and .942sv%, Filip Lindberg has been named AHL Goaltender of the Month for October: https://t.co/dR4YMsk4b8 pic.twitter.com/pYTlIxmUO9— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) November 1, 2021
(Fun fact: Lindberg is just the second goaltender in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins history to begin his pro career with four straight wins. The first? Tristan Jarry, who started his AHL tenure with a quarter of victories in 2015-16.)
Just as excitement was building for what Lindberg might mean to the Penguins organization, a November ankle injury knocked him out for the rest of the season.
From Scott Young, former Penguins director of player development, via DK Pittsburgh Sports:
“It’s unfortunate, because he was playing so well. It was just a short period there in the beginning of the year, but he was really playing well. We really liked it, what he’s going to be, and it’s just too bad that it was cut so short.
He was very frustrated. He wants to play, a competitive kid. He just came off from winning the national championship the year before. So he was full of confidence. It was a bit devastating for him.”
Now, time is ticking down for Lindberg to finally return— but unlike in 2021-22, he may no longer be the obvious starting goaltender.
Quick look at Filip Lindberg, who’s play was limited due to injury last season while playing for WBS. -DP pic.twitter.com/ooGbzZWdnd— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) July 13, 2022
With the Penguins signing second-round selection Joel Blomqvist and WHL free agent Taylor Gauthier, as well as veteran NHLer Dustin Tokarski, Lindberg is about to face some competition for his job.
So what can the Penguins expect when Lindberg returns to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton crease to fight for his position in 2022-23? Consensus answer: not size, but quick reflexes and athletic positioning.
It’s not all about the offense. Check out this showstopper from Filip Lindberg pic.twitter.com/At4GwIVyxP— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) October 28, 2021
Filip Lindberg with an unbelievable glove save to keep things tied pic.twitter.com/MigQRKV0AW— Evan Marinofsky (@EvanMarinofsky) January 11, 2020
Pretty pass from Shaw BoomHOWER (love that name) to Felix Robert.— Noah Knerr (@BigSaveEh) September 21, 2021
Even better save from Filip Lindberg. His positioning is quite special. Always composed, very smooth goaltending. pic.twitter.com/TBlCy54uBz
From Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now: “The 6-foot-1 goalie isn’t a net-filler but more of a controlled goalie who uses his athleticism to get post to post.”
From Seth Rorabaugh of Trib Live: “Lindberg relies on his agility more than his size to stop the puck.”
“I’d say I’m pretty quick. I like to be aggressive. I’m not the biggest guy. I feel like I know what to do in the right situation.” —Filip Lindberg
From the brief sample size of last season, Lindberg’s athletic goaltending can work well in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Hopefully, we will be able to see those skills develop professionally over a longer timespan this season as the Penguins enter the final year of Lindberg’s two-year, $925,000 entry-level contract.