Henrik Lundqvist buyout scenarios; which is the best one?

This Friday, the NHL buyout window opens. Although the consensus is that Henrik Lundqvist will be bought out, there are a few different angles. So now, let’s examine what’s being said out there and analyze what could be the best option.

Lundqvist buyout: A straight buyout

The most basic of all the options available. Almost as soon as the window opens up, buyout Lundqvist and gain $3 million in cap space for next season. Unfortunately, adding another $5.5 million in dead cap space. Not very helpful for the Rangers.

Lundqvist buyout: Wait it out and use the second buyout window

Larry Brook’s wrote an interesting article about the Rangers and Lundqvist not using the first buyout window. One reason is so they can better understand their situation and the other is for Henrik to see how the flooded goalie market pans out. Let’s examine Brook’s main point for why the Rangers should wait.

That is because the Rangers will have a second buyout opportunity of 24 hours two days after the club’s final settlement or award on salary arbitration filings. The Blueshirts would expect Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, Alex Georgiev, Brendan Lemieux and perhaps Phil DiGiuseppe to file unless traded beforehand. Arbitration hearings will be held between Oct. 20 and Nov. 8.

Now, the reason Lundqvist should wait.

Once the musical-chair goaltending carousel — that could include trade targets Darcy Kuemper, Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray, Frederik Andersen and Jonathan Quick as well as pending free agents Anton Khudobin, Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Thomas Greiss, Corey Crawford, Cam Talbot, Ryan Miller, et al. — slows down, Lundqvist is likely to have a much better idea if there is a team for which he is a match.

These are great points, save for the fact that the NHL offseason landscape is unknown territory for everyone. As one NHL executive told me over a week ago, “If you’re an agent, you want to strike in those first few hours. It will really grind to a halt on day two.”

So why would the Rangers want to wait? They could be left holding the bag with only a buyout option and only gaining $3 million in cap space. On the other hand, this is even worse for Lundqvist who could find himself completely out of options and left out in the cold next season.

Henrik Lundqvist buyout
Lundqvist (Getty Images)

Lundqvist buyout: Getting creative

Yesterday, we put forth an option that teams dealing with cap issues have used as recent as last season. Matter of fact, the Rangers benefited from it at the deadline.

Toronto needed to get Patrick Marleau’s entire cap hit off their books. They did so by trading him and a first round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes so they could buy him out. Eventually, this allowed Carolina to acquire Brady Skjei from the Rangers for one of their two first round picks.

Jeff Gorton and Henrik Lundqvist would benefit immediately from doing the same. It requires Hank to waive his no trade clause and go to a team like Ottawa. It will cost the Rangers their second first round pick (22nd), but they will gain the full $8.5 million on the cap.

For Ottawa, they would in essence be paying $3 million to acquire another first round pick. They also get the benefit of the $5.5 million hit so they can get to that cap floor after buying him out.

As for Henrik, he needs to get out in front of all these goalies. The buyout gives him every dollar he’s earned and he’s free to sign with anyone as soon as the bell rings on October 9th.

What makes the most sense

So which option makes the most sense? For me the answer is clear and that is for Gorton to get creative. The Rangers are shifting towards being a contender, a late first round pick that may not pan out and will take three years to develop. That doesn’t help this team entering a win now mode in two years.

Remember, when they won the lottery and received the right to draft NHL ready super talent, Alexis Lafreniere it opened up the creative option. Let’s see how this works out over the next week or two and which route they take.

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