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Oscar Lindberg Cleared for Contact, 2-4 Weeks Away

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NHL: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Oscar Lindberg underwent a successful hip surgery in early May and was expected to miss the first month of the 2016-17 season. But it looks like the hopeful stirrings we heard a month ago about him being ahead of schedule were true.

Lindberg has been officially cleared for full contact.

The battle for spots on the Rangers’ fourth line is a fierce one. The preseason may be over but the decision-making process has only just begun. With Lindberg healthy the Rangers have another forward in the mix that can play both center and wing. He is also more familiar with Alain Vigneault’s systems than most of his competing teammates.

Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, Josh Jooris, Brandon Pirri, and Lindberg are all battling for three roster spots on what will be a very-different Rangers’ fourth line. Cristoval Nieves was assigned to Hartford on October 7th, but his name also deserves mentioning after he impressed Vigneault in camp.

With Lindberg healthy the Rangers are now carrying 14 healthy forwards, 8 healthy defensemen, and 2 healthy goaltenders. Their first game is Thursday against the New York Islanders who surprised everyone by putting former Rangers forward P.A. Parenteau on waivers today.

Because we saw so little of him last season it’s easy to forget just how good Lindberg was when he was in the lineup. The Swedish forward is effective at both ends of the ice and, if nothing else, makes the Rangers an even deeper team at forward now that he is healthy.

UPDATE: According to Vigneault, Lindberg is still 2-4 weeks away despite being cleared for contact. He will start the season on the IR.