RALEIGH, N.C. — Ryan Lindgren was sidelined, once again, Thursday night, when the Rangers defeated the Hurricanes 2-1 at PNC Arena.
Though he participated in the morning skate with the rest of the Rangers who took the optional, Lindgren did not play due to an aggravation of the shoulder injury that had sidelined him for 11 straight contests, according to a source.
The question now is: How do the Rangers proceed?
The Rangers could benefit from putting Lindgren on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) now and shutting the defenseman down for the rest of the regular season.
Doing so would not only all but ensure Lindgren is 100 percent healthy for the playoffs, but also would allow the Rangers to call up another defenseman who could get some meaningful practice reps to prepare for a depth role in the postseason.
The Rangers are in a precarious position with Lindgren. If another blueliner goes down for any reason (injury, illness), the Rangers would have to play shorthanded for another game before their emergency recall would kick in.
Having already played so many contests down a player, or two, the Rangers presumably don’t want to be in such a situation again. That’s not just a personnel matter, it’s also a health matter.
The Rangers already asked a lot of their defense corps — and the team as a whole — at the end of last month, when the club bent over backwards to acquire Patrick Kane. It would not be wise to put such strain on the players again if they hope to be fresh for the playoffs.
Unless the NHL intervenes, as it did with the emergency circumstance after the Kane deal was made, when the league decided the Rangers had created their man-short situation, the Blueshirts should get the full benefit of placing Lindgren on LTIR.
The Rangers would be able to exceed the salary cap and receive just under $3 million (Lindgren’s cap hit minus their current cap space) in their LTIR pool to call someone up from AHL Hartford.
It is believed that Lindgren, who played against the Hurricanes on Tuesday at the Garden, tweaked his shoulder again during the holding penalty he was called for on former Ranger Jesper Fast.
Lindgren exited that game briefly, but returned to finish the remainder of the Rangers’ 3-2 loss.
The Rangers are proceeding with caution when it comes to Lindgren, whom they will need at 100 percent come playoffs.
It’s fair to wonder whether the Rangers should’ve placed Lindgren on LTIR during the first stretch of games he missed, which would’ve been retroactive to Feb. 25, when the injury occurred on a hit from the Capitals’ T.J. Oshie. The 11-game absence was the same timeline Lindgren would’ve been required to miss if the Rangers had opted to do so.
Based on the fact that Lindgren traveled with the team for the road trip to Montreal, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, however, it’s likely the Rangers anticipated a quicker return. Lindgren had to take a couple days away from on-ice practice with the team to do some off-ice conditioning, which also indicated a minor setback.
If the Rangers opt to place Lindgren on LTIR now, it would be retroactive to Tuesday.
The Rangers have some decisions to make, and it will impact the rest of the season.