Is this Henrik Lundqvist’s last hurrah with the Rangers
The phrase “the writing is on the wall” is so overused in sports because it fits so well in these situations. Henrik Lundqvist, the man who has backstopped this Rangers franchise with honor and grace for the last 15 seasons is now in essence a 3rd string goalie, who was serving as an honorary backup before Igor Shesterkin fractured a rib in a car accident. As we watch and wait for Shesterkin to return, Alexandar Georgiev is the clear number one while Lundqvist sits and cheers his teammates on.
The King’s Future
Henrik Lundqvist opened up in the wake of the NHL Trade Deadline that he wants to speak with management about his future. He was honest with the Rangers about his desire to remain through the rebuild and they were happy to have him. John Davidson called Henrik Lundqvist a pro for how he is handling a very difficult situation. The team’s President should know better than anyone having been a goalie in the NHL what this feels like. Henrik realizes that this could be the end for him in NY. When the season concludes he wants to know what his role is and if it really is a fit. Of course as he told media, is it “something else”?
“I’ve been very open with the management the two years I’ve been through this (rebuilding) process that, if there comes a day where they feel like I’m not a good solution, let’s talk about it,” he said. “Let’s be openLohud
Buyout, Trade, Retirement?
While this is what I like to call educated speculation, it is just that until it happens. One possible “something else” is a buyout, but that is the least likely outcome because it only saves them $3M on the cap and comes with a penalty of over 1M the year after. The scenario most expect would be waiving his NMC and getting traded to another team for one last shot as a starter and the playoffs. The Rangers would need to eat 50% of his 8.5M to make it happen and regain $4.25M to the cap.
What if Henrik Lundqvist just doesn’t see himself in another jersey and would like to retire having played for just one team? Should the King put away his crown, the Rangers would regain anywhere from $5M to 8.5M back on the cap. The number is not clear yet per the CBA and I’m working to clarify. The bottom line for the Rangers as a franchise is this would be the best outcome for them money wise. They will be entering next season with about 15M in cap space if the ceiling raises to $83M, which will be a tight squeeze to lock up RFA’s DeAngelo, Strome, and Lemieux. That additional money would make it easier and even allow them to add in free agency.
The Next Step
Should Henrik retire, he could easily slip into a role with the front office if that is what he wants. Or as Johan Rylander suggested, go to Sweden and join his twin brother Joel for one last hurrah with Frolunda. He could always take that front office job when he gets back.
No matter what happens next, the Rangers and their fans have been blessed to watch one of the greatest goalies the game has ever seen. A man who walked with integrity and dignity on and off the ice. A man whose charitable work will continue long after his playing days are over. A man who for 15 seasons was the King of New York.