Updated 4:00 PM; Today 3:56 PM
When Filip Lindberg chose to let the Minnesota Wild’s draft rights on him run out, the UMass star goalie had to believe there was a better option out there.
On Wednesday, the Penguins became that better option, as Pittsburgh general manager Ron Hextall, who knows a bit about goaltending, announced Lindberg had signed in the Steel City.
Because the NCAA granted all athletes an extra year due to COVID-19 hardships, Lindberg had as many as two more seasons of college eligibility but elected to turn pro after leading the Minutemen to the 2021 National Championship.
“Fille Lindberg has decided to withdraw from school in order to pursue professional hockey opportunities in North America and will not be returning for his senior season,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said on June 2. “Fille was simply outstanding in the net this past season and proved that he is ready to move on to the next level of hockey. His development as a goaltender during his time at UMass has been impressive and I give a ton of credit to associate head coach Jared DeMichiel who works closely with our goalies. Fille has our full support after being an outstanding part of our team and culture and a critical part of our winning the National Championship.”
Lindberg was the last player taken (197 overall by the Minnesota Wild) in the 2019 NHL Draft. He drastically outperformed his draft slot. Because Lindberg, a native of Finland, was drafted as a 20-year-old, he was eligible to sever ties with the Wild and become a free agent on July 28, likely earning him a larger contract.
As a junior Lindberg was 10-1-4 with five shutouts. He had a 1.24 goals against average and a .949 save percentage. He owns the NCAA record for career shutouts in the tournament with four and is UMass’ career leader in save percentage (.935) and goals against average (1.62).