Whomever is the new head coach of the Gophers next season, he will need to deal with the loss of one of the anchor’s of the Gopher blue line. The New York Rangers announced on Thursday that Minnesota Golden Gophers sophomore defenseman Ryan Lindgren will give up his last two years of eligibility and sign an entry level contract with the team. This was first reported by The Athletic’s Micheal Russo on Tuesday.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have agreed to terms with defenseman Ryan Lindgren on an entry-level contract.— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 22, 2018
Lindgren, 20, served as one of the University of Minnesota’s alternate captains this season while playing in 35 games with the Gophers. pic.twitter.com/8EOZ55UFOw
Lindgren just finished his second season with the Gophers and was named an assistant captain this season. In his two seasons in played in 67 career games scoring 16 points (3g, 13a). He also recorded 101 blocked shots. Lindgren was named Big Ten Honorable mention this season and was named to the Big Ten All-freshman team a year ago.
Lindgren has extensive international experience as well. He played for the United State in the past two World Junior Championships helping the red, white and blue to a gold medal in 2017 and a bronze medal in 2018. In 2016 Lindgren was the captain of the US U-18 team that won bronze at the World Championships.
Lindgren was originally a Boston Bruins draft pick, but was traded in February to the Rangers as part of the Rick Nash trade from New York to Boston. Lindgren now joins two other former Gophers in the Rangers organization in Brady Skeji and Vinni Lettieri.
Two other former Gophers have signed professional contracts in the last few days, however both were seniors who had exhausted their eligibility. Defenseman Steve Johnson signed an amateur tryout contract (ATO) with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League. The Reign are the Los Angeles King’s AHL affiliate. Johnson was a fourth round draft pick of the Kings in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Leon Bristedt has signed a two year contract with Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League. He will join former Gopher captain Taylor Mattson on the roster.
This may be just the beginning of the exodus of players with eligibility remaining for Minnesota. With the coaching uncertainty it is definitely possible Minnesota may lose some additional players. Potential early departures include juniors Tyler Sheehy (undrafted free agent) Tommy Novak (Nashville Predators), Brent Gates Jr, (Anaheim Ducks), sophomore Rem Pitlick (Nashville) and freshmen Scott Reedy (San Jose Sharks) and of course Casey Mittelstadt.
There was a report that the Buffalo Sabres had told Mittelstadt earlier this week that they were ready to sign him if he wanted, but that it would be his decision and they would be fine if he wanted to return to the Gophers for his sophomore season as well. All Minnesota fans can do is to at least hope Mittelstadt will wait and see who the new coach will be before making a decision.