9/8/20 | 1:09PM: Rick Carpiniello writes in The Athletic that all signs point toward Lundqvist’s Ranger career ending, with a buyout as the most likely option.
Carpiniello was told by a source that Lundqvist does not want to be a backup next season. (The Athletic)
Lundqvist returned to New York this past weekend as his children are beginning school. (NY Post)
Adam Rotter: There will be so many goalies available as free agents or via trade and it’s so hard to see where Lundqvist fits in. Will he find a job somewhere, I’d think so, but not in the role he desires. What team and in what city, that is a contender, will play him enough to where he’d be in a 1, 1A situation rather than a back up and playing 25-games?
8/16/20 | 8:58PM: Henrik Lundqvist “intends to continue his career, perhaps for a couple more years” according to what “someone familiar with his thinking” told the New York Times.
The article doesn’t specify if Lundqvist intends to keep playing in the NHL or would instead return to Sweden.
Lundqvist is in the final-year of his contract, with a cap hit of $8.5 million and was announced as a finalist for the King Clancy Trophy.
If the Rangers were to buy out Lundqvist’s final year, they would have the following cap hits:
- 2020-21: $5.5 million
- 2021-22: $1.5 million
In interviews last week, Jeff Gorton and John Davidson indicated that the Rangers won’t go into next season with three goalies.
Davidson, when asked about Lundqvist specifically, said “I had a good chat with him when we got off the plane out of Toronto. It was a discussion we had, we will continue the dialogue. He’s gone home, back to Sweden. His representative Donnie Meehan is a good man. We will talk and see where we go. We made it clear that we aren’t carrying three goalies next year. We gotta figure out what we are going to do, figure it out with all of our goalies, keep the communication open. Just started getting into the process now so this will take some time and we will be respectful of everyone.”
Adam Rotter: The first thing that has to be established is what the Rangers want to do. If they want to keep him and view him as a mentor to Igor Shesterkin, a powerful voice in the locker room and someone they trust to win, more than lose in 30 or so starts, then they will move Alex Georgiev. If the Rangers decide that it’s time to move on or that the $3 million in salary cap savings is the most important factor, than they will buy him out. A trade, though not impossible, would seem far fetched for salary reasons.
If the buyout happens then Lundqvist needs to determine what his priorities are. Is priority #1 being a starting goalie in the NHL again, is it Stanley Cup above all else, familiar location, coaching staff, teammates or something else? Anywhere he goes will be for the league minimum, or just above it, maybe with some incentives, but what place will check those boxes for him. I think familiarity of some sort will be important because not only has he only played with one team his entire career, he has only had one goalie coach. Through four different head coaches, many assistants and numerous teammates, Allaire has been the constant and with Lundqvist during every day of his career.
Then there is the third aspect, which is what contending team need a goalie, b) want a goalie who will be 39 when the playoffs start, c) want a back up that will draw as much attention as Lundqvist?
With the references that John Davidson has made to Lundqvist’s agent, I wonder if the Rangers will allow his reps to canvas the league to see if there would be any interest in Lundqvist if he is bought out or if a team would have interest in Lundqvist via some sort of salary exchange. Doing that would allow for a safe landing, if there is one, for Lundqvist and hopefully allow the two sides to split amicably.
There just aren’t a lot of options but there are three that might make some amount of sense. Unfortunately, all three are with division rivals. Philly has Alain Vigneault and Kevin Hayes, so there would be familiarity there and he could be used to partner/mentor Carter Hart. Brian Elliott, Philly’s other goalie right now, is due to be a UFA. Pittsburgh currently has Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry in net, but with both due for new contracts, many around the league think the Pens could move on from Murray. Lundqvist would be able to join up with two of his longest and biggest rivals, Crosby and Malkin, former Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan is the head coach and, despite their recent lack of playoff success, Crosby and Malkin always make the Pens a contender. Then there is Washington, which has Braden Holtby as a pending UFA and Ilya Samsonov ready to take over. The Caps have Carl Hagelin, Lundqvist has played with Nick Backstrom multiple times for Sweden and, like with the Penguins, he could join up with another one of his biggest foes, Alex Ovechkin. Do I think any of those teams would be a great fit, not really, but of all the teams in the East, they at least make some sense on paper.
Tampa Bay, where all former Rangers go to play, has Curtis Mcelhinney signed for next season behind Andrei Vasilevski, the Bruins have Rask and Halak, Carolina has two goalies signed and with Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins there will be no reunion with John Tortorella in Columbus. All the teams listed are places Lundqvist has played in a lot, some multiple times in the playoffs, so he would be somewhat familiar with the surroundings, but there isn’t one place that jumps out as the best fit. Add in the Isles and Leafs, who both have goalies signed, and those are what you would consider, in some way shape or form, the contenders. Maybe there is a scenario where Lundqvist is bought out by the Rangers, plays in Sweden but returns to the NHL, where he would have to clear waivers, to join a contender in the spring. It’s a lot and there are so many different factors at play.