After it was reported by Darren Dreger last night, the New York Rangers announced today that they have bought out the final year of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s contract. He’ll count against their salary cap $5.5 million next season and $1.5 million in 2021-22.
Lundqvist is an Icon
Lundqvist has spent all 15 seasons of his illustrious NHL career with the Rangers. In total, he’s appeared in 887 career NHL games, over which he holds a solid 2.43 goals-against average (GAA) and 0.918 save percentage (SV%). He also appeared in 130 career playoff games over the course of 12 seasons, through which he has a strong 2.30 GAA to go along with a 0.921 SV%. Lundqvist led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals a total of three times over the course of his career (although all three were from 2012-2015) and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals once in 2014. He also won the Vezina Trophy back in 2012. Unfortunately though, Lundqvist has yet to win a Stanely Cup in his career.
However, it’s not just Lundqvist’s stats that define him. Known as a consummate professional both on and off the ice, Lundqvist is truly one of the best people to play the game currently. His off-ice charity work is incredible to go along with his still-good on-ice performance. I’ve never heard anybody say anything bad about him, and that’s saying something in today’s society. He is a true icon not just in New York sports but of hockey as a whole.
Lundqvist Was So Loyal
I strongly disagree with the Rangers doing this for a few reasons. First, and less importantly, from a sentimental standpoint. Lundqvist was beyond loyal to that team. He was given the chance to leave when they announced they were going to rebuild. But, he stayed, knowing it meant he’d likely never win a Cup, because he loved the team so much. This shows that the Rangers aren’t exactly the team to be loyal to, as while I recognize hockey is a business, this is still a really bad look for them.
More Importantly, the Kraken Are Coming
Moving on from the sentimental aspect of why I don’t agree with this because, as I said, hockey is a business, this honestly doesn’t make much sense from a hockey standpoint for the Rangers either. I completely understand that they have two great young goalies in Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin. They want to let them play, which makes perfect sense. However, guess who’s coming next year? The Seattle Kraken. They complicate matters a significant amount, as you are only allowed to protect one goalie in the expansion draft. As good as Georgiev and Shesterkin are, there is absolutely no way the one left exposed isn’t taken by Seattle. Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is going to have to pull off one heck of a dirty deal in order to convince the Kraken to pick another player. That’s not necessarily smart of him to do either.
So, they’re almost certainly going to lose one next season. I really don’t understand is why they wouldn’t trade one of them now. At least they’d get something back for him instead of losing him for nothing. The Rangers aren’t in win-now mode. It’s not like they need to keep both of them so they could make a Cup run. They easily could’ve found a trading partner for one of their goalies, likely Georgiev, and gotten a decent return. But, instead, they’re taking on more dead cap hit (they now have $13 million of it next season) by buying out the final year of an iconic player and losing a great young goalie for nothing next year. That stands to reason.
That Being Said, the Buyout Was the Nicest Way to Get Rid of Him
So, yeah, I really don’t agree with this move from a sentimental and hockey standpoint. However, that being said, since they were deadset on getting rid of him even though he didn’t want to leave, this was the nicest thing the Rangers could’ve done for Lundqvist. Now, unless he chooses to retire (which I don’t think he will), he can sign with whoever he wants and go chase the one thing that has alluded him so far in his career: a Stanley Cup.
He had an $8.5 million cap hit and a no-move clause previously. So, any team that could afford him is not one he would’ve wanted to go to, because chances are, they weren’t a good team. But now, he can sign with a Cup contender for a much more reasonable number. So, as much as I disagree with them kicking him to the curb when he didn’t want to leave, at least they did so in the nicest way for him.
Clearly, I have a lot of thoughts about this move. Sentimentally, it sucks to see him get treated like this. On top of that, from a hockey standpoint, it really doesn’t make much sense either. It would’ve been so much smarter to trade one of their young guys now and keep Lundqvist for one more year instead of likely losing one of them to the Kraken for nothing. But, since they were so deadset on getting rid of him, I’m glad they bought him out. At least now he can go chase a Cup (if he chooses to keep playing). It’s certainly a tough situation all around, but if they were going to get rid of him, this was the best way to do it. I sincerely hope he can go somewhere and get his Cup now. He’s more than deserving of it.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
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