Dallas Stars Season Grades: Esa Lindell

Next article: is it LinDELL or Lindle?

If I could ask Lindy Ruff one question about the 2016-17 season, it would probably be why he kept scratching Adam Cracknell. But if I got a follow up instead of getting escorted out of the scrum, I’d ask why he kept trying to make the pairing of Esa Lindell and John Klingberg happen. I would even resist the urge to quote Mean Girls. (Stop trying to make fetch happen!)

But honestly, my biggest criticism of Esa Lindell is Lindy Ruff. Well, Lindy Ruff’s usage of Esa Lindell.

Because Lindell really isn’t the problem with Lindell, who played like a solid second line defenseman this season. The issue, friends, is that he played like a second line defenseman while eating up the majority of the top line minutes this season. He was a power play point specialist in the AHL who saw very little power play time in Dallas.

Let’s also not forget the month of November, when Lindell was benched five games in a row and then sent to the Texas Stars so he could get playing time, which was surely achieved in the two games he played in Cedar Park this season.

Otherwise, he spent the majority of this season with John Klingberg playing top pairing minutes and, toward the end of the season, sheltered with a lot of offensive zone starts. The problem with spending so much time with Klingberg is that, despite the touted chemistry that pairing supposedly had, they didn’t perform terribly well together.

A great DBD article back in February by David Castillo broke down the Klingberg/Lindell pairing and I suggest you all read it.

If you’ve already read it and just need a refresher, the main point at the end of the analysis is that while Klingberg and Lindell together weren’t the sum total of the problems of the 2016-17 season, but they were probably in over their heads. And I’ve gotta say, I know that article was written with stats from February, but not a whole lot changed in the two months left in the season.

You probably don’t need to see six million bubble graphs to prove this point, but I will share this one:

For the rest, I will guide you to corsica.hockey, where Emmanuel Perry has collated a lot of WOWY (with or without you) info. The only area where the pairing of Lindell and Klingberg performs better than Klingberg did with literally any other player, and that’s expected goals against.

This season was the last of Esa Lindell’s ELC, he’s a restricted free agent this summer and so far, the only pending player with a new contract signed is Cracknell.

So that’s where I leave it. What do you think?

What grade would you give Esa Lindell?

A - Exactly what we needed this season27
B - Best we could expect given his age and usage268
C - Could have done better93
D - Bury him in the third line next season17
F - We can just . . . not sign RFAs, right? (No.)2