Rangers Beat: Insights on Lundqvist and the future in goal

Whenever the season resumes or the offseason commences, the biggest question is the team’s future in goal. The team’s clear #1 going forward is Igor Shesterkin but what will happen with Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev. The Rangers were not able to move Georgiev by the deadline, if they really wanted to at all, so who will be here next season?

While I’ve covered the situation here for the last few months, I wanted to reach out to the reporters in the room. When it comes to having the pulse of the team, these reporters are inside the room and have keen insights to share. Each was asked how they felt the Rangers goalie situation would play out, here’s what they had to say.

Colin Stephenson, NEWSDAY

I think Lundqvist will have something to say about how it plays out. I think if he’s willing to be a backup to Igor, then the team will trade Georgiev – maybe as part of a big, multi-player deal, but whatever. It would give Hank one last chance to be part of the Stanley Cup playoffs (I think they’ll make it next year), even if he’s watching from the bench.

Lundqvist and Georgiev (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The thing is, I don’t know if Lundqvist would want to go out like that. He may actually prefer to get bought out, and go back to play in Sweden. Or maybe he’d be willing to be a backup somewhere else, but not here, like Brodeur was in St. Louis.

I also don’t know what the buyout rules are going to be after this season is over. Right now, buying out Lundqvist saves the Rangers $3 million on next season’s cap – which will just about fit Georgiev in it – and costs them $1.5 million in dead space in 21-22. But I don’t know what the salary cap will be for next season, what the buyout rules may be, and what all of that could force the Rangers to have to do. So, I’m really shaky on this one.

But, if things don’t change too much, and if Hank is willing to work in a backup role, then I don’t see the team needing to carry two 24-year-old goalies on the roster. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a 24-year-old and a 38-year-old, with a couple of prospects in Hartford, and the Lindbom kid in Sweden as a future prospect?

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Brett Crygalis, NY POST

Unless someone blows them away with a deal for Georgiev, I see them buying out Lundqvist.

Lundqvist (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: Brett shares Larry Brooks sentiments who answered a fans question on Lundqvist in a recent mailbag article.

I expect Lundqvist to be bought out, with the Rangers going with an Igor Shesterkin-Alex Gerorgiev tandem in nets.The club will need to get a veteran goaltender under contract for 2021-22 to expose in the Seattle expansion draft. J-F Berube, who finished the AHL season with Hartford after the Rangers acquired the 28-year-old from Philadelphia leading up to the deadline, becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Management might want to consider signing the one-time Islanders third goalie to a two-year deal with substantial minor league pay.

NYPOST

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Vince Mercogliano, LOHUD and USA TODAY

Wouldn’t we all like to know? It’s no secret that it’s been a tough year for Henrik Lundqvist. He’s been careful with his words, but it was pretty clear that the second half of the season was a stinging blow to his pride. And who could blame him? Any competitor of his stature would feel that way. Lundqvist was limited to just four starts after Igor Shesterkin was recalled in early January. And no matter what the Rangers say, that made it painfully obvious that Lundqvist fell to third in the pecking order behind Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

While Lundqvist never publicly criticized the organization, he did tell the media (should I say us?) that he’s expecting to have a frank conversation with management after the season. Has that happened now that the season is on pause? Probably not yet, but both sides have time before a decision needs to be made.

Shesterkin and Lundqvist (Sarah Stier/USA Today Sports, via Reuters)

I’m not sold on Lundqvist being bought out – but it feels much more likely than I would have told you it was three or four months ago. The thing is, I think he played well enough in the first half of the season that the Rangers would be comfortable having him serve as Shesterkin’s backup and mentor next season. But does Lundqvist want that? The answer to that question, along with how the trade market for Georgiev develops, will dictate what happens next.

(BTW – I’ll have a story diving deeper into this topic coming next week.) LINK: https://lohud.com/story/sports/nhl/rangers/2020/03/26/what-we-learned-2019-20-igor-shesterkin-ny-rangers-no-1-goalie/5082299002/…

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