“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The
opportunity to play.”
-- Mike Singletary
Undrafted, signed as a free agent in March 2016 by the Montreal Canadiens, five very forgettable seasons bounding between the AHL and the NHL, signed by St. Louis as a free agent in July 2021, another season of AHL/NHL back and forth, a total of 29 NHL games in six NHL seasons. It is not exactly a conventional path to a three-year/$3.3 million contract, but the Washington Capitals signed Charlie Lindgren to such a deal last July to be the backup goalie.
There was something that the Caps saw in Lindgren, even in his thin body of work, to inspire signing him to such a contract. Perhaps it was in that lone season with the Blues last year. He played in only five games, starting four of them, but he won all of them, going 5-0-0, with a 1.22 goals against average and a .958 save percentage. He also had an excellent season with the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Springfield, going 24-7-1, 2.21, .925, with three shutouts for the Thunderbirds. He took the Thunderbirds to the Calder Cup final before losing in five games to the Chicago Wolves.
Odd Lindgren Fact… While Lindgren does not have a lot of experience in the NHL, it has been balanced in one respect. He does not have a losing record against any of the four NHL divisions (as a matter of standings points earned versus standings points available).
Fearless’ Take… There is just so little to go on based on his NHL resume to date for the casual fan to have a lot of comfort in Lindgren taking on the role of the backup, but that season with the Blues was tantalizing. In five games he did not have a game save percentage under .935, and four times it was over .950 (yes, one of those was in just 6:25 of work against Florida in which he stopped all three shots he faced).
Cheerless’ Take… Yeah, that resume is really thin. Six seasons and only once did he dress for ten or more games (he was 4-8-2, 3.03, .908, with two shutouts with Montreal in 2017-2018). Even within the context of only 29 NHL games played, he has been inconsistent on a month-to-month basis. His career save percentages for October and November are over .920, as are those for February and April. But his is under .900 in January and March games.
Potential Milestones to Reach in 2022-2023
- 2,000 career minutes played (he has 1,687)
- 1,000 career shots faced (889)
- 1,000 career saves (812)
The Big Question… Even as a backup, can Charlie Lindgren shoulder the load he is likely to get effectively?
It is entirely possible – likely, perhaps – that Charlie Lindgren will match or surpass his total of games played in his career (29) this season. His NHL numbers are not impressive, but the Capitals saw something to suggest that a 28-year old goalie (he will turn 29 in December) was worth a three-year contract. And, he is backing up a goalie who has not shouldered particularly heavy workloads as a starter in the NHL, a hint that he could get more work than most backups might get.
In the end…
That the Capitals would dip their line into the free agency
water and catch Charlie Lindgren seems a bit odd in the context of this statement: “If the Blues turn their eyes to the open market [for a backup
goaltender], they’re doing so not because Lindgren’s too pricy, or because he
hasn’t shown he can deliver when the pressure’s on him - it’s because without
[Ville] Husso, they need a consistent and reliable goaltender to back up Jordan
Now what is odd about that statement? The Blues are a playoff contender, if not on the short list of top-end Cup contenders. So are the Capitals. The Blues are salary cap-challenged (currently $3,974,167 over the cap), as are the Caps (currently $6,321,666, according to capfriendly.com). The Blues allowed Lindgren to walk to sign Thomas Greiss to a one-year/$1.25 million contract. Greiss is much more experienced (not to mention eight years older than Lindgren), while the Caps have taken on a goalie with a very thin resume who has not, to this point, demonstrated consistency or reliability. The Caps have taken a gamble, but for Charlie Lindgren it might be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Projection: 27 games, 11-9-3, 2.81, .911