February 06, 2016

Mats Lindgren

Escape from New York. That best sums up Mats Lindgren's time with the New York Islanders.

"I wanted to get out of New York, that was the biggest thing," said Lindgren when he accepted a try out with the Vancouver Canucks in 2002.

"I told them [the Islanders] last year I wasn't happy with the situation. Last year they acquired [Alexei] Yashin and [Mike] Peca and they put Dave Scatchard ahead of me.

"I just played fourth line and I wasn't too happy about it. After a quarter of the season I realized it was going to be a hard year."

Vancouver gave him what proved to be his last shot. It was a long a bumpy road to get there.

A first-round pick (15th overall) by Winnipeg in 1994, Lindgren was moved to the Oilers in the big Dave Manson/Boris Mironov trade that also featured some swapping of premium draft picks.

Lindgren spent the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons in Edmonton.  He was billed as an offensive player at that time, blessed with great agility and balance on his skates and superior hockey sense. His promise was evident as Sweden included him on their 1998 Olympic roster in Nagano.

Lindgren never was able to put it altogether in the Alberta capital. He was traded by the Oilers to the Islanders for goalie Tommy Salo in March, 1999.

He had five goals and eight points in 12 games with the Islanders before chronic shoulder problems restricted him to 43 games in '99-2000 and just 20 games in 2000-01.

Lindgren finally got relatively healthy in 2001-02 but became victim to the Islanders new found depth.

That is when Lindgren realized he needed a change of scenery. The biggest problem was his long injury history.

"Most teams know about my shoulder problems," he said. "A few teams were interested but I felt Vancouver was a team where if I played well I'd have a chance to get better ice time. I think my chances to make the team are pretty good, or I wouldn't have made the trip over.

It would be Lindgren's final season, but again he would not be able to finish the year thanks to back surgery. He retired in January of 2003.

Lindgren retired with 387 games played, with 54 goals and 74 assists for 128 points. He returned to Sweden and got into coaching.

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