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Lindgren Brings Leadership, Physical Element to Prospect Pool

Defenseman talks growing up with Brady Skjei and what fans should expect from him

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Defenseman Ryan Lindgren has followed the hockey path set forth by fellow blueliner Brady Skjei throughout the last handful of years.

Lindgren and Skjei have known each other since childhood, as Skjei and Lindgren's brother, Charlie, have been friends since their school days back in Minnesota. Lindgren followed Skjei to the United States National Team Development Program before committing to the University of Minnesota starting last season.

And now, of course, he's found his way to New York, hoping to share the same ice Skjei currently patrols with the Rangers.

"I grew up with Brady," Lindgren told shortly after being acquired by the Blueshirts on Sunday in a deal with the Bruins that sent Rick Nash to Boston. "As young as I can remember he was always over my house hanging out with my brother. I always watched him and he's someone I've looked up to.

"I'm not a Ranger yet," he added, "but I've done exactly what he's done."

Skjei has never played with Lindgren in anything more than exhibition games, but he has a solid idea of what type of player the Rangers acquired.

"He's definitely a character player," he said. "He's hard to play against. He plays with an emotion and compete level. What I know of him, he shuts down the other team's top line. He's a really good player."

Lindgren, who stands 6-foot and 202 pounds, described his game in one word: tough.

"I'd say I'm a tough defenseman," he said. "I'm more of a shutdown guy. I go against the other team's top line and try and shut them down. I'm a good passer out of the defensive zone. My game is going to be physical. I'm going to be tough to play against and I'm going to be a leader. I've worn a letter in most places I've gone."

That leadership quality stood out to the Rangers' management team, including assistant general manager Chris Drury.

"Certainly looking at any amateur player, it's a piece of the puzzle, the leadership and the character," he said. "Having acquired players that wear letters at such a young age - we're hearing and seeing things about these players and they're only confirmed by teammates and coaches."

Gordie Clark, the team's director of player personnel, echoed Drury's comments and spoke highly about the contributions a player like Lindgren makes to his team that doesn't always show up on highlight reels, but most definitely add to its success.

"When you are responsible, you're out there on the ice, never mind how you play, who always show up and are always competing," Clark said. "He's a gritty guy that blocks pucks and goes into the trenches. He's got that great mixture of what we want to have going forward."

Lindgren agreed with the assessment of his work ethic.

"I think that's a way a lot of people describe me," he said. "I'm not a guy who takes a game off. I'm going to show up at the rink and give it all."

That drive has led Lindgren to back-to-back appearances at the World Junior Championship tournament, and back-to-back medals with a gold in 2017 followed by a bronze this season.

Lindgren said both experiences were highlights in his hockey life, and two that helped him in his development as he works towards becoming a professional.

"That first year I was a young guy on the team," he said. "I was a young guy and it was an unbelievable experience. The whole experience was unbelievable. It was probably the best hockey of moment of my life. I think it helped my development a lot to be able to see other players from around the world. It showed me what I had to do to keep improving."

The recent moves by General Manager Jeff Gorton and the Rangers have been made with the intention of adding young players to the organization's prospect pool with the hope they'll be the foundation for a championship team in the future.

Lindgren, like other prospects with the team, is excited by the opportunities awaiting him in New York.

"That's a very good thing for me," he said. "They're young and reloading. I think that's a very positive thing for me to go there. I'll get some chances to show what kind of player I am. I have to take those opportunities and show them what I can do. It's a very exciting time to be a Ranger and a young guy like myself."

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