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2020 Rangers Offseason Henrik Lundqvist John Davidson Marc Staal

What John Davidson said on MSG about Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal

Rangers President John Davidson was on MSG and said:

  • On the Henrik Lundqvist decision, “Both players, when you think about Marc Staal and Henrik, we were sitting and talking about it as, combined, almost 30-years of service for the Rangers and both of them playing with a great deal of compassion, competitiveness, won a Presidents Trophy, have gotten to a Stanley Cup Final. These are the type of things you really have to weigh when you make these decisions, these are the hardest to make. You have to sit here and look at it and say, “we’ve gotta do what we have to do, the cap is different, it’s going to be flat for three-years, there are young people going through this build and everything adds up. All in all, it’s about what they did for the Rangers. They will always be Rangers, great Rangers. With Hank, when you are called the “King,” you are called that for a reason. We have good relationships with both players, we will continue that way and anything they need, we are there for them and we just have to keep moving, going north.”
  • On having a personal relationship with Hank, “the first time I ever saw Henrik Lundqvist play, it was at the training center, in training center, his first day. The media have a certain area at ice level, 30 feet from where Henrik is in goal, and I said to myself ‘this guy is good, this guy is really good.’ You could see it in the first five minutes and then he went onto an incredible career with the Rangers. When it’s goalie-goalie you talk a little about things here and there and when it gets down to these types of decisions, I really like that Hank asked me to go have a discussion with him, and we did. It was very honest with both people involved about thoughts and ideas and future and the one thing I really respected about what Hank said was ‘wherever this goes, I just want to make sure, whatever my decision is, that I don’t have any regrets. That is a great way of looking at things. With us, we have to make these hard decisions, it’s part of the business. I’ve thought about athletes in New York, Tom Seaver went on and left, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, a lot of great athletes in this City, some of them went on and played, Eli Manning didn’t play for another organization, some did. The player had to make that determination in his own heart and feelings and I know Henrik is going to really weigh things as he moves forward.”
  • Did you seek out any advice on what to do, “When you go through these decisions you try and weigh every single option that is available to us. You work with Hank, Hank works with his family, Hank has his agency that he works with and he believes in their help. Everyone gets together and makes this decision. We have Chris Drury here, Jeff Gorton here, the coaching staff, the owner, Jim Dolan, he has immense respect for Hank. All these things have to weigh and a lot of times you get a ledger sheet and go through pros and cons and just try to weigh them and make these tough decisions and hopefully they are right ones. All I know is, this organization and Hank, the marriage is still going. It’s an incredible marriage and when you think Rangers, you think NYC and what Hank has been able to do in NYC and the NY area, helping people, making life better for a lot of different people. That is something that will continue. The hockey part of it is changed right now but I think the big picture is what you try to look at. I have immense, really immense respect for what Hank has been able to do. He’s been skating here at the training center and taking shots with a lot of our young and older players who want to work on their conditioning and do things. Hank can come up any time he wants to the training center and work out, take shots. It’s still a good marriage.”
  • On what stands out about Marc Staal, “Whenever you talk about Marc Staal, the word that comes up with a lot of different people is ‘warrior.” He was a warrior, a lot of fans, I don’t think realize, when you play the way he did all those years, you play banged up and hurt and nicked up and bruised and some injuries that are tough. He toughed his way through all of those. He also, over this last year I got to know him a little better and what he meant to the franchise. There is leadership value there too and that is something he will always have as part of his resume, wherever he plays hockey or whatever he’s doing. He’s a good man, plays the right way, cares about people and he has that ability to be a voice.”
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Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist’s statement after being bought out

Henrik Lundqvist released the following statement on his social media channels:

 






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Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers officially buy out Henrik Lundqvist

10:48AM: Lundqvist’s agent Don Meehan told Pierre LeBrun that it’s “to be determined” whether Lundqvist will continue to play.

10:01AM: The Rangers have announced that they have officially bought out the final-year of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract.

The following statements were released as part of the announcement:

Rangers owner James Dolan said: “Few players have been as important to the Rangers franchise as Henrik Lundqvist, and we are incredibly grateful for all he has done for our organization. Over his 15-year tenure, he not only established himself as one of the best goaltenders to ever play the game, he has also been one of hockey’s fiercest competitors and most effective ambassadors. He will always be a part of the Rangers family.”

Rangers President John Davidson said: “We would like to thank Henrik for his immeasurable contributions to the New York Rangers. From the time I met Henrik when he first came to New York in 2005, he has been the consummate professional. His tireless work ethic, passion for the game, and love of the Rangers and New York City enabled him to become one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey and one of the best players in the history of our franchise. We all wish Henrik and his family the best going forward.”

Lundqvist had one-year left on his contract and a cap hit of $8.5 million.

The buyout will save the Rangers $3 million in cap space but they will still have a cap charge of $5.5 million this season and $1.5 million next season.

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Adam Rotter: There are nearly 20 pages for Henrik Lundqvist in the Rangers 2019-20 media guide, and that should say everything about the player who has been the face of the Rangers for the last 15-or-so years. He’s meant everything to the Rangers on and off the ice, and in the community, since coming over from Sweden and now it’s all over.

I expected Glen Sather to also have a statement, in addition to James Dolan and John Davidson, as part of the release as well as some acknowledgement, even though it’s obvious, that no Ranger will ever wear #30 again. In any case, Henrik Lundqvist’s time as a New York Ranger is over. Hopefully this isn’t too personal for Lundqvist and that over time he, like Brian Leetch and Adam Graves, can re-join the Rangers in some capacity after a breakup. Mark Messier returned from his breakup to play four-more seasons, and then serve as an advisor to Glen Sather for a few years, but returning as a player doesn’t seem likely. The real hope is that Lundqvist is back working with the Rangers and can provide help, in player development, in hockey ops or another area, and be part of the overall group that does bring the Stanley Cup back to MSG.

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Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers expected to buy out Henrik Lundqvist’s contract on Wednesday

6:59PM: Larry Brooks writes that the buyout is expected to occur on Wednesday. (NY Post)

6:20PM: On TSN’s Insider Trading, Darren Dreger said that the Rangers are going to buy out Henrik Lundqvist.

Dreger said “unfortunately for Henrik Lundqvist there will be a separation from the New York Rangers by form of that buyout. It’s an easy story to follow. The Rangers made it clear they weren’t going with a three goalie system and Henrik Lundqvist at 38-years of age and as decorated of a goaltender as he is with the New York Rangers organization, the time has come for the two sides to separate and I believe that the Rangers, perhaps as early as Wednesday, will announce that they have moved forward with the buyout of the final-year of the contract of Henrik Lundqvist. This will now come easy to the Rangers given eveyrthing that Lundqvist has provided to the organization. This was a tough decision but a decision that has to be made moving forward.

Lundqvist has one-year left on his contract at $8.5 million.

The buyout will gain $3 million in cap space from the buyout but still have a cap hit of $5.5 million this season and $1.5 million next season.

Following the Rangers loss to Carolina, John Davidson 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.”

Lundqvist intends to keep playing in the NHL.

Adam Rotter: Just because it’s been expected it’s no less jarring, at least to me, that the Rangers are actually going to do this. Hockey-wise it’s the right move. The Rangers have been Igor Shesterkin’s team since the moment he was called up and a duo with him and Alex Georgiev will set the Rangers up nicely in goal for as long as they are together. They add some extra cap room and even though you’d prefer it wasn’t there, $1.5 million in dead space for 2021-22 should not hurt the Rangers that much.

Still, the fact that Lundqvist’s time with the Rangers is over is shocking. In the span of just a few days the Rangers will have moved on from their two longest tenured players, Lundqvist and Marc Staal, and officially cut nearly every tie to the last Ranger teams that were contenders. Since he came over from Sweden in 2005-06, Lundqvist has been the constant through every player move, every coach and every iteration of the Rangers. The Rangers media guide for 2019-20 dedicates nearly 20 pages just to Lundqvist and his time with the Rangers. He was named Team MVP nine times, re-wrote not just the Rangers record book but the record book for European goalies and is not just a Hall of Famer, but likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The only thing missing for Lundqvist is obvious: the Stanley Cup. He only had one chance at it and was only part of 3-4 teams that could really call themselves Stanley Cup contenders. Maybe a contender signs him and he gets one last chance but where he would be a fit remains to be seen. No other Ranger will ever wear #30 again and he will rightly take his spot in the rafters of MSG next to the other greatest Rangers of All-Time. It feels like more than the end of an era, it’s the end of…I don’t know. Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers have been one in the same for so long but after tomorrow that will no longer be the case.

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Henrik Lundqvist

The NHL Buyout Window Opens Today

11:28AM: Larry Brooks notes that a buyout of Brendan Smith is unlikely since a buyout would only save the Rangers just under $500,000 this year compared to sending him to Hartford.

A buyout of Smith would cost the Rangers $2.783 million in dead cap space this season, along with $783,333 in dead space next season while sending him to Hartford would cost $3.275 million in dead cap space this season.

8:28AM: The NHL’s buyout window opens today and runs through October 8th, the day after Day 2 of the NHL Draft and the day before Free Agency begins.

The most likely buyout candidates for the Rangers are Brendan Smith, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist. Their cap hits if bought out are as follows:

Smith: $4.35M Cap Hit Staal: $5.7M Cap Hit Lundqvist $8.5M Cap Hit
2020-21 $ 2,783,333 $ 3,566,667 $ 5,500,000
2021-22 $ 783,333 $ 1,066,667 $ 1,500,000

The Athletic ranked Lundqvist and Smith at 1 and 2, respectively, on their list of most likely buyout candidates.

Larry Brooks wrote in the NY Post that the Rangers don’t have to buyout Lundqvist during the first buyout period since they will, likely, get a second buyout period of 24 hours following the conclusion of their hearings or settlements with players that filed for arbitration.

Brooks notes that keeping Lundqvist through the first buyout period would allow the goalie market to play out and potentially lead to a better landing spot for Lundqvist. (NY Post)

The Rangers used their second buyout period last year to buy out Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Rangers already have $7.49 million of dead space committed to buyouts of Shattenkirk ($6.083 million), Dan Girardi ($1.11 million) and Ryan Spooner ($300,000).

Adam Rotter: It’s in the Rangers best interest to stop buying out players and adding dead space to the cap, especially as it remains flat and they will need every nickel in the next few years to extend Mika Zibanejad and the rest of their new “core.” Buying out players is never ideal but in a regular year the increase in the salary cap usually covers those cap charges, but with the cap remaining flat it makes for a bigger crunch.

The cap space aspect is always what is looked at with a buyout, but usually in the context of freeing up money to sign another player and getting back towards the upper limit of the cap. For the Rangers, at least in this instance, that is likely only part of the equation. Any cap space the Rangers can get, and then not use, would be a hedge against major performance bonuses that Kaapo Kakko, Igor Shesterkin or Alexis Lafreniere could get. Right now, with Kakko, Shesterkin, Fox, Lindgren, Chytil and Julien Gauthier, the Rangers have around $7.2 million in potential bonus charges and that number will likely get to around $10 million once Lafreniere signed. Any bonus amount that would put the Rangers past the upper limit of the salary cap, likely due to winning end of season awards, would be applied to the following season’s cap.  Will they all hit every bonus and force the Rangers into making sure they have $10 million in extra salary cap space just in case? No, especially since some of the bonuses likely conflict with each other, but it’s something the Rangers have to have some flexibility with.

Henrik Lundqvist’s situation is unique and will get resolved when it gets resolved. With Smith and Staal, it makes sense to buy out Smith since his cap charges for this year and next year are cheaper. I don’t think the Rangers want to buy out Smith, a veteran leader that David Quinn can use on defense, at forward and on the PK, but they may need to do it for the cap space and to give Libor Hajek or K’Andre Miller more of a chance to make the team. Smith has a modified no-trade clause but the Rangers may be able to trade him by retaining salary. I doubt the Rangers buy out Staal, especially if they buy out Smith. Maybe I value his presence as a veteran and him being a bridge from the old Rangers to the new Rangers too much, I just think Staal still has a role and can be useful as the Rangers move forward this season. It’s very likely that this is his last season as a Ranger, and while his cap charges aren’t terrible, I think they would prefer to bring him back.

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Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist intends to keep playing

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.