Tonight is the start of the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic festivities from Utica, New York. The event begins with the AHL All-Star Skills Competition at 7:00 PM CST tonight and is followed by the AHL All-Star Challenge tomorrow night at 6:00 PM CST. The Milwaukee Admirals will have two representatives for the event: Anders Lindbäck and Emil Pettersson.
We’ve already had the chance to get to know Pettersson a bit better earlier this season. Now it is time to chat with the Big Swede himself whose journey from being drafted to being an AHL All-Star has been an incredible one to follow.
Lindbäck’s career has been nothing short of a whirlwind. The 6’6″ goaltender from Gävle, Sweden was originally drafted by the Nashville Predators in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL Draft. In the nearly ten year span since he was drafted he has been brought over from Timrå IK, played with the Admirals in the AHL, was promoted to the Predators in the NHL, was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, signed as a free agent with the Dallas Stars, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, signed as a free agent with the Arizona Coyotes, started his 2016-17 season with no NHL or AHL commitments on the table and signed a PTO Contract with the Ontario Reign which lasted 4 games before being released, signed with Rögle BK of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for the rest of last season, and has now found himself back signed with the Predators where he has been the Admirals anchor and best player from Day 1 of the 2017-18 season. Even then: it couldn’t be simple for Lindbäck. He has been rotated with Juuse Saros in an effort to keep the Predators primary back-up to Pekka Rinne as sharp as he can be at slight expense to Lindbäck’s consistent playing time. Lindbäck has not played a single game in the NHL this season but has been flipped for Saros on eight separate occasions.
You would assume this buffeting nature of being recalled to not play after playing a lot would mangle consistency and approach. For Lindbäck he has flourished no matter what the circumstances have been. He has made 31 of starts for a record of 18-10-3-0 to go along with a 2.87 goals against average, 0.909 save percentage, and shutout. He hasn’t just been the Admirals first choice goaltender for the 2017-18 season he has made it such that he is the only choice – unless the Predators say otherwise if only for a temporary basis.
What Lindbäck has done this season in so many ways is revive his North American playing career. To see what he has done in MIlwaukee and remember a season ago the best contract on the table was a professional try-out with the Reign in the AHL is mind boggling. Yet, that is how far his stock in so many’s eyes had fallen all while a goaltending talent pool continues to get younger and younger. See Rinne. See Saros. See Lindbäck. See the paths that all have taken at the age they were taken and it speaks volumes of the varying degrees at which goaltenders are developed. Lindbäck started well within Nashville’s grasp when he first started. Once they sent him to Tampa Bay things slowly unraveled. As harsh as all of those disappointments and constant moves from one team to the next must have felt: they are experiences.
Lindbäck by no means is a late bloomer in the goaltending spectrum of hockey but he continues to be an NHL organization’s dream. He has the size in net that is daunting for all shooters to look up and face. He has incredible quickness for his size and a sharp ability to play the puck. All that he has ever lacked on an NHL scale is consistency for his attributes. This season he has shown that. And it might be enough for other NHL organizations to once again consider having Lindbäck as an option.
When Lindbäck first arrived to Milwaukee he was 22-years old. He is now 29-years old and this season became a father. The experiences that he has had on and off the ice have molded him into what we’ve been privileged to watch in MIlwaukee this season. Whenever the journey next takes Lindbäck is one he simply seems ready to face with a smile.
A massive thanks to Anders Lindbäck for taking the time to chat with us. You can follow him and his Swedish pal Pettersson for all the AHL All-Star activities through the NHL Network or for free on AHL Live. Our next editions of Fifteen will be out this coming week where we catch up with Tyler Moy and Jake Paterson.
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