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2016-17 IceCaps Season Review: Charlie Lindgren looks like a future NHL starter

After an impressive rookie season, this promising prospect could be the next heir to the Habs’ pipes.

St. John’s IceCaps

We were first introduced to Charlie Lindgren on April 7, 2016. He made his NHL debut after a signing as a free agent with the Montreal Canadiens to a two-year, two-way contract. After making 26 saves in a 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, he was immediately on the radar.

At the start of the 2016-17 season, Lindgren beat out last year’s starting goaltender, Zachary Fucale, for the leading role, sending Fucale to the ECHL’s Brampton Beast.

The move seemed like the right decision after an astounding start to the season. During his AHL debut on October 21, 2016, he kicked aside 50 out of the 51 shots he faced for a 4-1 victory over the Providence Bruins.

His hot streak continued, winning all of his first six games, instantly looking as if he could one day fill the massive shoes Carey Price.

But, like most players, Lindgren started to run hot-and-cold as the season progressed. After winning eight out of his 10 starts during the first half of the season, he then went on to win just four out of his next 10 games. From there came a few unfortunate outcomes, like a five-game losing streak in January, followed by a win one, lose one pattern. To be fair, Lindgren faced a lot of shots on most nights due to persistent breakdowns on defence, yet he still ended up being the main reason the IceCaps came away with a victory on multiple occasions.

For his efforts, Lindgren was invited to participate in the 2017 AHL All-Star Game along with fellow teammate, Chris Terry.

He finished up his rookie season with a 24-18-6 record, a 2.56 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. Despite his ups and downs, he was fifth in the league with five shutouts. During the team’s award ceremony at the end of the season, he was named Rookie of the Year and nabbed the Molson Three Stars award.

In April, Lindgren continued to impress when he was called-up to the Canadiens after backup goaltender Al Montoya suffered a lower-body injury. Lindgren suited up for two games while Price sipped his Gatorade from the bench.

On April 3, he helped the Habs clinch first place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Coach Claude Julien gave Lindgren props after the game, saying his play was solid and he kept them in the game helping them find a way to win. “I really enjoyed the way he played tonight and it just bodes well for the future of this organization.”

He also got the nod that Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings, giving Price the night off to rest up for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Lindgren made 25 saves for a 3-2 overtime victory, making him undefeated when sporting the Habs jersey.

After that game he returned to the AHL. For the first time in five years, the Habs affiliate made it to the Calder Cup playoffs, and Lindgren was a big part of getting them there. Although they didn’t make it past the first round, during their four playoff games against the Syracuse Crunch, he let 10 pucks slip past him on the 129 shots he faced during the series.

Lindgren’s only 22 years old so there’s still plenty of time for improvement. He’s a very athletic player, which can leave him out of position at times, though his rebound control is one of his strong points.

Regarding his future, Lindgren said, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to have a career in the NHL.” After an impressive rookie season, and continuing to shine whenever he is called upon by the big club, it looks as if this netminder is well on his way.