It's official. On Friday, the Lightning acquired pending-RFA goaltender Anders Lindback from the Nashville Predators. They need to work out a deal with him, but that's only a matter of time and talking. This development along with the signing of Riku Helenius raise as many questions as answers, especially about the apparent logjam in the AHL (how weird is it to say Syracuse now?).
To answer the inevitable question, I do have reservations about his fit here. Not because I don't think he's a good goalie. He's a very good goalie. Rather my doubts have more to do with whether Lindback's style, tendencies, and instincts mesh with the team's goaltending philosophy. To be blunt, coaching will be a question in my mind throughout the next season. Much will depend on the relationship Frantz Jean is able to build with Lindback; how well they communicate and how adaptable they are will determine whether Lindback can be successful in Tampa.
Still, Lindy is now your goalie, Tampa fans. I'm sure you want to know something about him. Luckily for you guys I've been watching him for two years now. And luckily for you (ha!), I have opinions. I know way more than a sane and rational (non-goalie-freak) person would know.
Meet Anders Lindback:
[This video and Lindy's happy-go-lucky air spawned a virtual meme industry among Nashville fans, as well as the stellar @FakeLindback Twitter account.]
Honestly, the man is a sweetheart off the ice but a fierce competitor on it. He has a sound positional foundation picked up in Sweden, but he has the frame and mentality of a scrambling goalie. He will dictate his own position in the crease. He is good at using his pads, so he'll drop to his butterfly or half-butterfly and use his legs to take away the bottom of the net. He'll then slide more than a skating goalie would. He does give up rebounds and he isn't always in control of them. He needs to work on his corners, too.
What fans will notice most from Lindy is acrobatics and active hands. He learned glove usage from Pekka Rinne and stick usage in Sweden. Mitch Korn worked most on his depth/angles, as well as on reading plays. In Sweden, Lindback tended to use his body (torso & pads) to make stops, but he has worked on "activating" his hands. He liked the way that Rinne was able to use his active glove to eliminate rebounds and has worked to incorporate that into his game.
Lindback uses depth as a tool and is more active in controlling angles by adjusting his depth than Dwayne Roloson or Mike Smith were. He is far more active and assertive in the crease than Roloson was. Roloson was good when he was "quiet" in the net. Lindback plays a very dynamic game. He will be more visibly emotional, as well.
Here's the issue. It's hard to know what the Lightning are getting in Lindback because it's not clear what kind of goalie he's going to turn out to be. Because he played so little in 2011-12, it has been difficult to assess his development over the past year. And, honestly, his stats for the year were not stellar.
|2011 - Anders Lindback||16||792||5||8||32||2.42||364||332||.912||0|
The words that come to mind are young, inexperienced, raw. He's a raw talent, with potential that has yet to be realized. That inexperience should temper fans' expectations of Lindback and of the upcoming season. Many of Lindback's most significant weaknesses are ones that can only be addressed through playing, and in Nashville, Pekka Rinne's reliability has prevented Lindy from getting starts. Thus, much of the early part of next season should be seen as development time for him. If he's successful, great. If not...well, there's a learning curve.
Is Lindback the goalie of the future in Tampa? Will he finally provide stability for the team in this position? I don't know. He might. He is certainly capable of it, under the right circumstances. I would caution, however, that "the future" is not necessarily the 2012-13 season. Having Anders Lindback in net does improve the chances of the Lightning reaching the playoffs but it by no means guarantees it.
In attempting to project Lindback's performance in the near future, I see no reason to think that he cannot put up better numbers than Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson did in 2011-12. That, however, is a very low bar by which to gauge success. The real question is whether the improvement will be enough to make a significant impact on the season. He should be better, but how much better is anyone's guess.
[I recommend the overview that InGoal Magazine drew up on Friday to anyone who wants a little further information about Lindback and his background.]