The Henrik Lundqvist era in New York is coming to a cruel end, as the Rangers will be buying out the future Hall of Famer after 15 seasons with the team.
Hockey is a business. Sometimes it’s a cruel business, and there’s hardly a crueler example than the way the Henrik Lundqvist era is ending with the New York Rangers.
Not even 24 hours after the Tampa Bay Lightning clinched the 2020 Stanley Cup, reports began surfacing Tuesday night, first reported by Darren Dreger, that the Rangers would be buying out the final year of Lundqvist’s contract, ending his 15-year tenure with the team and making him a free agent.
The 38-year-old Lundqvist had one year remaining on a seven-year contract worth $8.5 million a season. According to Capfriendly, the buyout will cost the Rangers $5.5 million against the salary cap this upcoming season and $1.5 million for the season after that.
In 15 seasons, Lundqvist has just about done it all as the face of the Rangers franchise. He led them to 11 playoff appearances in 12 years, 11 playoff series victories, three conference final appearances and a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2014. He is the team’s all-time leader in games played (887), wins (459), save percentage (.918) and shutouts (64). He’s easily the greatest goalie in Rangers history, and arguably the greatest player that they’ve ever had. Unfortunately, he and the Rangers could never reach that ultimate goal of climbing the mountain and bringing the Stanley Cup back to New York.
Happy trails, Henrik Lundqvist
After everything that Lundqvist has done with the Rangers over the last 15 years, this is a tough pill to swallow for the Rangers organization and fans alike. However, the emergence of young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev as a lethal duo made it necessary to move on from Lundqvist. They were clearly the better goalies this season, and they couldn’t afford to keep all three and improve the team to where it needs to be this offseason.
For the first time in his career, Lundqvist will play for a team other than the Rangers. He’ll be joining a stacked goalie market, but there will surely no shortage of suitors for his services, especially in a backup role. It’s unlikely Lundqvist would consider a team that doesn’t have a real shot at the Stanley Cup next season, so perhaps a teams looking for a solid goaltending tandem like the Washington Capitals, Edmonton Oilers or even Carolina Hurricanes would be willing to take a chance on them. Realistically, there’s no telling where he could end up right now.
The sad part is, the final game Lundqvist ever played for the Rangers wasn’t in front of cheering Rangers fans, or lifting the Stanley Cup. It was losing 4-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes in an empty stadium. There was no ceremony, no fairytale ending to the movie, just a business decision. It was cruel and heartbreaking, but it needed to be done for the Rangers to take another step as a franchise with their two young goalies. At the end of the day, hockey is a cruel business.