Oscar Lindberg: New York Rangers' Loss or Las Vegas Golden Knights' Gain?
Nov 21, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg (24) skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at the PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2017 NHL Expansion draft the Las Vegas Golden Knights selected New York Rangers forward Oscar Lindberg.

Yesterday was the day the NHL has been waiting for. The NHL Expansion Draft was held for the Las Vegas Golden Knights during the 2017 NHL awards show. The Knights selected one player from every team in preparation for their inaugural season. However, the players selected was one of the worst kept secrets in sports history.

As the morning turned into afternoon, leaks of players being selected started to get reported, mainly on Twitter. Then Larry Brooks of the New York Post broke the ice.

Oscar Lindberg would be the New York Rangers player selected by the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Rangers fans knew this was a possibility beginning this past Sunday when the protected list was released. Many, including myself, believed it would be between Michael Grabner, Antti Raanta, Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg. The suspense of who would be picked brought on another question. Could the Blueshirts offer draft picks or maybe a player to Vegas to persuade them to not pick a particular player as other teams have? Apparently, this was not the Rangers plan.

The reason no side deal made is actually pretty simple.

For the first time in a few years, the Rangers own a first round pick in this year’s draft. What they don’t have in this year’s draft is a 2nd, 3rd or 4th round pick. At the 2018 draft, the Rangers own a First round pick, but not a second round pick. So it appears the Rangers were content on letting the situation work itself out. Unfortunately, that resulted in Lindberg becoming a Golden Knight.

How will Lindberg’s Departure affect the Rangers?

This loss affects the team in many different ways. Lindberg was one of head coach Alain Vigneault’s most reliable players. He played on the 3rd or 4th line, where he was assigned to play against the opponents top players and lines. This came with tremendous defensive responsibility in a league where playing defense can sometimes be a struggle. His linemates more times than not were Fast and Grabner, a line that had speed, excelled at keeping the opposition off the scoreboard and created plenty of scoring opportunities.

Lindberg was an excellent player when he was on the penalty kill pairing up with different players throughout the season. The times he was paired with Michael Grabner would allow the team to not only keep the puck out of their end of the ice, but would cause some pretty spectacular short-handed scoring opportunities and goals.  Lindberg always seems comfortable with or without the puck on his stick and has and excellent hockey IQ. These are just some of the reasons why he was a great pick for the Golden Knights.

Since the leak of Lindberg’s selection came out fans have been asking why the Rangers didn’t protect Lindberg and expose Stepan, who on Jul. 1, has a full no-trade clause kick in. Though Stepan did struggle to score goals and win faceoffs it would be a huge loss to the Rangers to just lose Stepan with no return in the expansion draft. The Rangers will still have until Jun. 30 to try and trade him if they really want to. The gamble was too much of a risk to the organization.

Oscar Lindberg was the Phoenix Coyotes second round pick (No. 57) in the 2010 NHL Draft. The Coyotes traded him to the New York Rangers on May 8, 2011. He made his Rangers debut February, 2014 vs Calgary and made it into the lineup the next season. He played in 134 games regular season games scoring 21 goals and 27 assists for 48 points.

In this era of the NHL, one player loss should not make or break an NHL franchise. Hockey is a team sport where players need to gel together to be successful. Hockey Players come and go all the time and the better teams learn how to adjust and keep moving forward and continue to win.

This is the current situation for the New York Rangers.  When all the dust settles and everyone takes a hard look at the selection as a business decision fans and the organization will realize this was the right move. As good a player Lindberg was, he was considered a 3rd or 4th line player with very good skill.  These are the kind of players that, in most instances, can be replaced.   Nevertheless, it is still hard to see a good guy like Oscar Lindberg leave. Wishing him all good luck in sin city.

A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at Nyrfc12@gmail.com