MONTREAL - Back home in Minnesota, Charlie Lindgren is hard at work with the start of training camp just eight weeks away.
Five days a week, the 23-year-old netminder makes the short trek from his family's home in South Minneapolis to Edina to work out at Velocity Training Center with his long-time strength and conditioning coach Kevin Ziegler and a group of local NHLers.
"I've been working with Kevin for six years now, and I'm working out with my best friend, Brady Skjei. Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, and Tyler Pitlick are also part of the group. We've got a really good nucleus there with really good players," said Lindgren, who signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Canadiens on July 6 following a standout 2016-17 campaign spent primarily in St. John's. "Now that it's July, we're really starting to gear up for camp."
Two weeks prior, the Lakeville, MN native began skating again, hitting the ice with his training mates at Hat Trick Sports, a local 3-on-3 facility in St. Louis Park.
"I'm out there twice a week right now with my goalie coach Dave Rogalski. I've been skating at this rink for probably the last three or four years. The guys come out and shoot on me, so I'm getting high-quality shots. I think it's been really beneficial because pretty much every shot in there is a Grade A," said Lindgren. "It's a perfect-sized rink and I think it really helps out a lot."
Lindgren will soon begin putting his offseason work to the test when he suits up for Team Velocity as part of Da Beauty League, a 4-on-4 league comprised of six teams featuring some of the top of NHLers and elite amateurs in the area.
"For a goalie, it's going to be pretty hard out there, but it's a great time and a lot of people come out for it," said Lindgren, whose squad also includes his younger brother, Ryan, along with Drew Stafford, Matt Hendricks, and Justin Fontaine, among others. "All the top guys in Minnesota play."
Lindgren sees the 4-on-4 competition as a perfect way to begin the process of getting back into NHL game shape. After a successful rookie season in the pros, Lindgren is chomping at the bit to get back between the pipes again.
Video: MTL@FLA: Lindgren stops quick shot, covers rebound
"I had an absolute blast last year, and I'm just super excited for what's to come next year," mentioned Lindgren, who posted a 24-18-6 record with the IceCaps, buoyed by his 2.56 goals-against average and.914 save percentage. "My goal is the same as it was last year - to do the best I can and make a good impression in front of the management and the players. That's really all I can worry about."
The former St. Cloud State University puckstopper did just that during a late-season call-up, backstopping the Canadiens to wins over the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings in early April. That brief stint with the big club further fueled Lindgren's fire heading into the offseason.
"When you spend your time up there [in Montreal], you just want to do everything you can to get back up there, and get back up there for good," said Lindgren, who is undefeated in three career NHL starts. "I always said my goal is to play in the NHL. But that's not really my goal. My goal is to have a full career in the NHL. That's just about working every day to get better at it. I know exactly what I want and I'm going to do everything in my power to get it."
Video: MTL@DET: Lindgren makes big stop on Helm's one-timer
Unlike last year when he called Newfoundland home, Lindgren will be based in Quebec on a full-time basis this year, whether he cracks the Canadiens' roster or not, as the club's new AHL affiliate begins play in Laval.
"That's kind of nice. I was up in St. John's last year. It was a great place to play, but now we're going to be a little bit closer. We all know it's a hockey hotbed there. I'm really looking forward to it," said Lindgren, who has kept in touch with a few of his IceCaps teammates over the summer, including Tom Parisi, Daniel Audette, and Nikita Scherbak. "I think I should sharpen up on my French, maybe. That could be a little bit of an adjustment. It's going to be a great time. I think we're all excited for another chance to prove ourselves. It's a chance to put Laval on the map right from the first season."