Oscar Lindberg’s latest scratch raises questions about his future
The Rangers look to finish the rest of November strong starting today at 1PM in Philadelphia. One Ranger who has struggled and seems to be losing his place on the roster is 25 year old center, Oscar Lindberg.
Today, he is being replaced by newly acquired forward (off waivers), Matt Puempel. Which is pretty shocking considering the 23 year old, LW had zero points in 13 games for Ottawa and was a -5. As per Hockey’s Future, his scouting report states he is a real offensive talent but so far in 52 NHL games has only 4 goals and 6 points to show for it.
Puempel is excited for a “fresh start” and told reporters he is an “offensive” player. He also explained he spoke with Alain Vigneault to discuss his role and what they want from him when he gets into the lineup. Considering he will be on the 4th line with Josh Jooris and Jesper Fast, the expectation should be to use his speed effectively and don’t make any defensive mistakes.
It will be an interesting debut for sure and how he handles the defensive responsibility is key. His scouting report also states he isn’t very good in his own end. If that shows itself today, he could be riding the bench early.
Last season, Lindberg stormed onto to the scene scoring early and often. However, maybe it was due to fatigue or the issues with his hips but he fell off the face of the Earth. Off-season dual hip surgery, missing camp, and probably being forced to come back a week or two early due to other Ranger injuries could be why he looks lost this year.
One assist in 9 games this season is certainly concerning. Especially after last year’s 13 goal and 28 point debut in 68 games. It should be noted he scored 11 of his 13 goals and 17 of his 28 points in his first 27 games to start that year. That decline in production has been steep and apparently has continued into the 2016-17 campaign.
What To Do
Jeff Gorton needs to see what he has in Matt Puempel while Pavel Buchnevich heals (he’s approximately 2 weeks away with back issues). Boo Nieves is also a very promising young forward that could maybe see more time as the season progresses. That leaves, Lindberg the odd man out.
The issue is his value has dipped and he would only be a sweetner to any deal. I already alluded to that when I wrote about the Dougie Hamilton rumors out of Calgary. The smart thing to do is give Lindberg a few games off and then reinsert him into the lineup to showcase his talent. If the Rangers are lucky, he will pop in a few goals and increase his value.
If he doesn’t and the Rangers are forced to send him down, they will likely lose him on waivers. Still, no mater how you slice it, Oscar Lindberg’s time with the Rangers appears to be coming to a close.