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Getting to know Charlie Lindgren

The Habs made a big splash into the NCAA free agent pool with the signing of Charlie Lindgren. What does the newest Habs goaltender bring to the table?

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NCAA free agent season is a wonderful time. Prospects are available for essentially nothing more than one of the 50 contract slots. Often times, these NCAA free agents join their NHL club's AHL team to close out the season, or if they're a quality talent, can close out the year in the NHL.

And that is what Charlie Lindgren is set to do. If he plays a game, which all signs say he will, he will become the first ever NCAA free agent goaltender to sign and play in the same season in Montreal Canadiens history.

Lindgren was one of the top available NCAA free agents this season, after winning the NCHC Goaltender of the Year award and being named one of five finalists for the Mike Richter Award, given to the top NCAA goaltender. He also set the record for most wins in a season (30) in St. Cloud State's Division I history.

The resume is simply incredible. Lindgren has played 78 of 88 games for St. Cloud State in the past two seasons. This season, he posted 30 wins in 40 games, first in the NCHC and second in the entire NCAA. His NCHC play was stellar, posting a 2.11 GAA and .927 SV%, good for third and fourth in the conference respectively. Lindgren's overall SV% (.925) and GAA (2.13) were both 18th in the entire NCAA.

Furthermore, Lindgren allowed one goal or less in a staggering 16 games and two or less in 27 games. He also faced 27.6 shots against per game, and recorded five shutouts.

These impressive numbers combined with the explosive offence of St. Cloud State, which averaged 4.27 goals per game. However, St. Cloud State was only a slightly above-average possession team, recording a 50.8% Corsi For %. (Statistics courtesy of College Hockey News.) St. Cloud State was heavily reliant on their incredible powerplay and the fantastic play of Lindgren to win them games. While they undeniably had a loaded offence, they were prone to giving up a large amount of dangerous scoring chances.

The talent that Lindgren possesses and displays on a gamely basis certainly shows why he had an fantastic season statistically.

Our friends at SBN College Hockey ranked Lindgren fourth in their list of NCAA free agents, and had this to say about his ability:

Lindgren has tremendous athleticism for a 6'2" goalie, making it extremely difficult to beat him low. Lindgren has started to harness his athletic ability with better positional play in his junior season, making a much more consistent goalie.

To elaborate, Lindgren has emerged as one of the NCAA's top goaltenders thanks to his athleticism, competitiveness, and improving technical game.

Lindgren's athleticism is showcased with his unique, flashy style that often results in highlight-reel saves. His lateral movement is explosive and has become more controlled since last season. The technical aspect is still improving, but there has been a major turnaround since January of last season. This progression with his improving angles and positioning at the top of the crease. While he has a tendency to bite on the shot, he's quite good at sealing off the post and fully utilizing his size.

The combination of athleticism and competitiveness makes him down low play awesome. He's quite strong, allowing him to push pucks out and occupy the space he desires in scrambles. Another area where he is quite unique is with the paddle. He's an aggressive pokechecker and has quality hand-eye allowing him to swat loose pucks away.

The southpaw goaltender also really shines on glove side. He flashes the leather every opportunity he gets and is good for multiple flashy glove saves every game. However, his blocker side is an area of weakness.

Just like any young goaltender, rebound control and technique still need improvement. Lindgren's rebound control is quite erratic at times, leading to more scrambles than necessary. While his athleticism often allows him to make the necessary saves, at the NHL level it will become even more of the essence.

Overall, Lindgren is highly athletic and solid technically. He certainly has lots of upside, and he's still quite young for an NCAA free agent, being just 22.

The Canadiens have a done good job lately bolstering their goaltending depth through savvy free agent signings. Mike Condon, and Michael McNiven, who has been wonderful against the London Knights through three playoff games, as well as Charlie Lindgren are all excellent additions to an area that was recently a weakness.

Goaltenders are hard to predict, and appear to have more variance than skaters in their development. At the very least, it should be quite fun watching Lindgren begin his NHL career.