Did the Rangers Waste Lundqvist’s Prime?
There have been reports, including from Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic, that New York Rangers goaltending prospect Igor Shestyorkin has agreed to his entry-level contract. The excitement that the fanbase is experiencing in a non-playoff spring is uncanny. The only issue is that as the future holds promise, it also brings heavy questions.
Speculation is a fun game in which every fan plays. To be blunt, I do not believe anything happens without Henrik’s say. While he has been open about the struggles he’s had losing; he also speaks highly about his desire to spend the entirety of his career in New York.
Regardless, the debate with Henrik Lundqvist is not about whether or not he will or should be moved. It is, however, whether or not they wasted his best years.
A King’s Ransom
Henrik Lundqvist played his first NHL game out of playoff contention in the 2017-18 season. This is a stat that is so crazy it hurts my brain, granted, that is hardly a feat, but the point remains. Lundqvist has been an unforeseen success with the team. Hank has given the franchise the best opportunity to be competitive since he entered the league.
Many will say that the franchise let his prime years go with nothing to show for it. Five out of the 14 years that Lundqvist has been in the league, the franchise DID NOT have first or second round picks. Why is that? Because they mortgaged picks via trades. By doing so, the team saw a run of missing the post season in only three seasons since 2005-06. While Henrik played the most important part in the overall success, it is obvious that management was trying their hardest to build around number 30.
The Missing Piece
The Rangers were always missing a key piece in their playoff runs; whether it was a true number one center in 2012, or an elite goal scorer in 2014 and 2015. The front office made every move possible in order to find that piece, even if it was the wrong move – looking at you Dan Boyle.
With this comes the hard truth about this debate. Did the New York Rangers waste away Lundqvist’s prime? No. The franchise did everything in their power to achieve the ultimate goal. Sometimes making countless moves doesn’t mean winning the last game of the season. The passion the fanbase has for the absolutely gorgeous man that is Henrik Lundqvist, leads to slander about the franchise wasting him away.
Ultimately, because of the moves the franchise made to try and bring a championship to Broadway is why the rebuild has happened. It is because of making moves for the present and taking advantage of Hank’s prime that led to a letter, it led to the sell offs and it led to a misty-eyed Swedish beauty not being able to say goodbye to his friend in a post game interview.
It’s so difficult to win the NHL’s “second season;” countless teams have gotten close but fallen short (San Jose, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Anaheim, and more). It’s 31 teams in October, then 16 in April trying to win one trophy. The Rangers did not waste Lundqvist’s prime. Rather they found a way to salvage their future in order to make the most of what’s to come.