It’s official. The New York Rangers have done what many have speculated for the last year and a half – they bought out the remainder of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract. After 15 stellar seasons protecting the Blueshirts’ net, the 38-year-old from Åre, Sweden is bidding his beloved team, organization, city, and fans, farewell.
King Henrik played 889 games for the Rangers beginning with the 2005-06 season. He gave his all to the team and its fans both on and off the ice. Executive Chairman MSG Sports James Dolan had this to say about the star netminder and future Hall of Famer: “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.” Dolan also said, “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.”
The sentiment is echoed throughout the entire organization and the city of New York. John Davidson, Rangers’ President and Alternate Governor, made these comments about No. 30: “We would like to thank Henrik for his immeasurable contributions to the New York Rangers.” Davidson continued, “From the time I met Henrik when he first came to New York in 2005, he has been the consummate professional.
(Lundqvist’s) 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.”
The details of the buyout are as such: Lundqvist had a seven-year, $59.5 million contract that included an $8 million signing bonus. The Rangers were to take an $8.5 million cap hit next year. The move will open up $3 million in cap space for the Rangers to use in 2020-21 and will also create a $1.5 million cap hit for the following season. Along with having the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s NHL Entry Draft, the Rangers will be loaded with the fourth-most cap space in the league at $25.7 million.
Lundqvist holds 50 records for the storied Rangers franchise. That’s on a team that had goalies like Mike Richter and John Vanbiesbrouck, among others.
Henrik finished his Rangers career with a record of 459-310-96. He had a 2.43 GAA (goals-against average) a .918 SV% (save percentage) and 64 shutouts. That’s pretty impressive for anyone let alone a 205th overall pick. He’s the only netminder in NHL history to record at least 30 wins in 11 of his first 12 seasons.
He’s in a class with Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur as one of the only three goalies in NHL history with at least 11 30-win seasons. He hit the 400-win mark faster than any goalie in league history at 727 games. He’s the only netminder in NHL history to have 13 consecutive 20-win seasons.
As for the playoffs, Lundqvist played in 130 postseason games with 129 of them being consecutive starts. He had a record of 61-67 with a 2.30 GAA and .921 SV%. He logged almost 8,000 playoff minutes between the pipes and posted 10 shutouts. Lundqvist also won six consecutive Game 7’s and only lost two. In those eight games, he recorded one shutout and had a 0.81 GAA with a .973 SV%. He backstopped the Rangers to 10 straight wins in games where they faced elimination.
Henrik was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team for the 2005-06 season. He was nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender four times and won it once in 2012. He was named to the NHL All-Star Game roster five times and was named NHL First-Team All-Star in 2012 and Second Team in 2013. Lundqvist was even named to the NHL All-Decade Second Team for the 2010s.
He was also named the Rangers’ MVP nine times. King Henrik was nominated for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy this year and last. The King Clancy is given each year to “the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”
Needless to say, Lundqvist has meant a great deal to the entire Rangers organization, its fans and the city of New York as a whole. He did all he could to help bring the Cup back to Manhattan and fell just short of that in 2014.
Potential New Homes for Henrik
There’s already been tons of speculation as to where Lundqvist might sign. Sure he’s 38 years old, but he proved in this year’s short playoff stint that he’s still capable. He wasn’t great but he certainly wasn’t the reason the Rangers lost in the play-in round. Most speculate, including Larry Brooks, who has covered the Rangers for a long time, that Lundqvist has about five or six options that might work out.
Brooks wrote in the New York Post that Lundqvist won’t fit in or accept a back-up role with another team (from What’s next for Henrik Lundqvist? Potential NHL landing spots,’ New York Post, 9/30/20). However, Brooks thinks there may be a place for Henrik to land where he could contribute to a Stanley Cup run.
Brooks speculates that the St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks might be a good fit for The King. Vegas presents the most interesting scenario. If the Knights decide to part with Marc-Andre Fleury, it could pave the way for Lundqvist to step into his role. He’d then be backing up Robin Lehner. Lehner’s father was Lundqvist’s goalie coach for five years back in Sweden.
For now, NHL front offices are focused on the upcoming NHL Entry Draft which is Oct. 6-7. Then they’ll have a few days to collect their thoughts before the free-agent frenzy starts at 12 P.M. ET, Oct. 9.
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, Ca by way of Detroit, Mi. Scott’s life has been shaped by uniquely diverse experiences in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents.