This year, Charlie Lindgren served a few very important roles. He was a mentor to Joel Hofer while the two shared the net with the Springfield Thunderbirds. He helped lead the team to the Calder Cup Final, losing in five to the Chicago Wolves. He also played the role of St. Louis Blues starter with both Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso lost to injury briefly at the start of the season.
Lindgren stepped in out of nowhere and won the hearts of Blues fans, going 5-0-0 with a 1.22 GAA and a .958 save percentage. Most were expecting him to saddle up next season as Jordan Binnington’s backup - a reasonably priced backup with upside and skill. Unfortunately, five games with the Blues and several quality seasons as an AHL goaltender in Montreal aren’t enough to fill in the gap for Husso.
Goalie Charlie Lindgren is expected to go to market. Likely will have some options as a #2. #stlblues like him a lot but with losing Husso team might be looking for someone with more experience. Get the sense Joel Hofer needs another 1 or 2 seasons in #AHL— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) July 12, 2022
This news comes as a surprise based on the quotes dropped to Jeremy Rutherford by Lindgren’s agent the other day in The Athletic (subscription required).
“Yes, he wants a one-way deal, and he played well enough that he will get a one-way deal,” Hankinson said. “There is a big need for goaltenders, so Charlie is in a really good spot. He’ll have a lot of options where to go just because he’s ‘been there, done that.’ He fits right into the NHL room, as you saw with the connection he made with the Blues players and fans.
“The Blues had a good spot for him last year and hopefully that continues. We’ll see in the next few days what happens, but the communications are strong between us and the Blues.”
If the Blues turn their eyes to the open market, they’re doing so not because Lindgren’s too pricy, or because he hasn’t shown he can deliver when the pressure’s on him - it’s because without Husso, they need a consistent and reliable goaltender to back up Jordan Binnington. Binnington regained his form in the post-season until injury knocked him out, and down the stretch in the regular season he showed a lot of improvement. For a large portion of the year, however, Binnington struggled and was a liability. Husso added stability; the Blues are going to be looking for that at a price tag less than Husso’s recent deal with the Red Wings. Martin Jones and Braden Holtby still have some gas left in their tanks, Holtby especially. He’s coming off a one year, $2 million contract with the Dallas Stars, in which he finished with a 2.78 GAA and a .913 SV%. If Binnington slides again this year, he’s going to have to work to also get back to a consistent form in net.
In this case, the Blues are choosing between the devil they know, and the devil they don’t, and could well be creating an issue for themselves that doesn’t need to happen.