Is King Henrik’s Rangers Reign Nearing The End?
The New York Post published an interesting story on Rangers legend Mike Richter and his stance on when “The King” will be less king-like. The facts are the facts and Henrik Lundqvist is getting older. Nobody can beat father time, and eventually, it catches up to all of us. Have we seen the best of the Hank? Probably. Does he still have enough in the tank for when the Rangers complete their rebuild? Absolutely.
Contractually, Lundqvist will be a part of the Rangers until the end of the 2020-21 season. By that time, the first-round selections of this season could already be established with the Rangers. The young kids of now will be two years older and have enough experience to come into their own.
The cause for concern with Lundqvist is the shakiness he showed last season. He is statistically getting worse and it can visually be seen. Sure, the defense was a huge issue last season, but at the same time, there were some soft shots that found its way across the goal line.
His skills are dulling and his shine as a top goaltender is flickering. But, he can still be a valuable piece of this rebuild and possibly beyond.
Lundqvist now sits at 36 years of age, so the time is dwindling down until he has to hang up the pads. I would like to see Hank keep going after 2021, but I don’t think it will happen.
He will be 38 during his last season under contract, rapidly gravitating toward 40. There have been some select goalies that have succeeded after reaching “the 40-year-old hill”. Dominik Hasek, Dwayne Roloson, and Martin Brodeur each played some games while being apart of the 40-and-over club.
The only way I see Lundqvist giving age 39 and/or 40 a shot, is if the Rangers are bona fide contenders by then. Meaning, they are atop of the Metro division in 2021, don’t get bounced in the first-round and have enough talent to make a deep playoff runs in consecutive seasons. Henrik Lundqvist is one of the most competitive hockey players in the game’s history, and he will do anything to win a championship in New York.
Under Lundqvist are two very highly touted goalie prospects for the Rangers future in Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shestorykin.
Georgiev showed time backing up Hank last season in reputable fashion. I have advocated for his stay as the Rangers backup for these rebuilding seasons. With the previous point made, Hank is gonna need some more time off. This season must be split between Hank and Georgiev to make sure the Rangers can get the most out of Lundqvist.
Shestorykin is still a little way off from coming to the United States, as he is slated to at least appear in the KHL in 2018-19. Even so, if a sophomore slump were to occur with Georgiev, Shestorykin would be the next man up.
It’s All Up To Him
It’s all up to Henrik Lundqvist. As big of a competitor that he is, I could imagine the number one voice in deciding to bench him more would be Hank.
Another powerful voice in that conversation will be Benoit Allaire. Allaire, who has been with Lundqvist for the entirety of his NHL career, will be leaned on heavily by new head coach David Quinn. No one in the Rangers organization knows Henrik Lundqvist better than Allaire.
The time is ticking on winning a cup for Henrik Lundqvist. At 36, and the mindset of this organization in a rebuilding process, the cards have been stacked against “The King” now more than ever. This next season will be a trial of what this team can or can’t be, and despite all of the upcoming prospects ready to take the reigns from Rangers past, a large question remains in goal.
Is it time for “The King” to be dethroned?