On May 10th, Chris Drury made his first move since being appointed general manager of the New York Rangers by extending the contract of defenseman Ryan Lindgren for three more seasons at an AAV of $3 million per year. Lindgren was acquired by the Rangers on February 25th, 2018, in the trade that sent Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Lindgren, Boston’s 1st round pick in 2018, and a 2019 7th round pick.
Since becoming a Ranger, Lindgren has played one-hundred-sixteen games, in which he scored two goals, and registered twenty-eight assists for thirty points. In these two seasons, he also was +36 +/- wise, as well as a 50:47 giveaway to takeaway ratio, which is very impressive for a defenseman. In addition to this, Lindgren had positive penalty drawn to taken ratios in both seasons, continuing to impress. In comparison to his teammates in this span, Lindgren finished second in AB in the 2019-20 campaign trailing with a +8.56 score, trailing only Artemi Panarin’s career-high +18.56 score, and registered a +10.01 score in 2020-21, the best score on the team. Since the inception of our work in 2007-08, defensemen leading their teams in AB is somewhat unprecedented, and to see it happen in consecutive years with one of the NHL’s most storied franchises is definitely something to monitor going forward. The pairing of Lindgren and Norris Trophy candidate Adam Fox have been outstanding for the Rangers since both entered the league as freshmen last season. Fox’s contract is set to expire at the conclusion of next season, and his contract could possibly be far more lucrative and longer-term than Lindgren’s. However, the Rangers will and should do whatever they can to get a deal done, as this pairing has the potential to be something truly special. In the history of our work, we have never seen a rookie and sophomore seasons from a defense pairing like this in terms of AB, as the two combined for +17.03 (+8.515 AVG) in 2019-20, and +19.22 in 2020-21 (+9.61 AVG). To put this incredible feat into perspective, the two defensemen combined outscored nineteen entire teams in AB in 2020-21, and twenty-three teams in 2019-20. This is simply incredible to us, and we are so excited to see these two players develop and grow together for the Rangers in the future.
As far as the dollars are concerned on the Lindgren deal, Chris Drury did a masterful job. The arbitration analyzer’s closest contract comparable to Lindgren was another great AB defenseman in Carolina’s Jaccob Slavin, who currently makes $5.3 million per season. This $2.3 million saved opens up a variety of opportunities for Rangers brass this offseason, as they appear to have some money coming off the books, creating more cap space this summer as well. It was a rough 2020-21 for the Rangers on the ice, however Drury’s first move off the ice should encourage fans that this team is heading in the right direction by extending one of their core players for the foreseeable future. Much more to come.