NHL Network’s Jackie Redmond delivered a letter to the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist on-air Friday suggesting the veteran netminder should contemplate waiving his no-movement clause before Monday’s trade deadline to go to a Stanley Cup contender, and let’s be honest, Jackie’s are never wrong.
Less than 24-hours before the NHL’s trade deadline, it’s a three-headed goaltending monster at The Garden and while the team is right back in the middle of the playoff race, the future between the pipes is here for the Blueshirts — and it does not include The King.
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So what is general manager Jeff Gorton to do? Here’s a quick breakdown of the situation on Broadway.
When was the last time Henrik Lundqvist played?
It’s been 22 days since Lundqvist last appeared in the Rangers net — and that was in a six-minute and four-second relief stint against the Winnipeg Jets — when Igor Shesterkin left the game following a collision but returned.
On Friday, he was a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career, a career that has spanned 15 years, 885 games, 751 starts and 459 wins. Those 459 wins, by the way, are the most by a goaltender in the franchise’s 93 seasons and put him at sixth on the NHL’s all-time wins list.
NHL all-time wins list
Why is Henrik Lundqvist not playing?
Two words: Igor Shesterkin.
The long — and I mean, long — heralded heir apparent to The King was drafted back in 2014 but spent the last few years in the KHL before coming to North America this year. He spent some time in the minors with the team’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but since getting the call-up in early January has been on fire. In 10 starts, he’s boasting a 9-1-0-0 record along with a .940 save percentage.
New York also has Alexandar Georgiev, who is in his second full season with the club and has a 14-12-1 record with a .912 save percentage. There have been rumors of an impending trade involving the 24-year-old for a number of weeks, but as of now, he’s still a Blueshirt.
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By comparison, Lundqvist, who turns 38 next Tuesday, is 10-11-3 with a .907 save percentage. Unlike his compatriots, his GSAA is in the negative numbers for the season (-1.69). With just 25 starts this year, even if he were to start every one of the Rangers’ last 21 games, it would be his lowest total since 43 in 2012-13 (lockout-shortened) and 46 in 2014-15 (missed time with a neck injury).
Should the Rangers trade Lundqvist?
Lundqvist has owned New York for the better part of 15 years. A seventh-round draft pick back in 2000, he has become one of the most revered athletes in New York sports history. He won the 2012 Vezina and was a finalist another four times and took the franchise to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final — who doesn’t remember him in the locker room after Game 5 — and two conference finals.
But, the window of him winning in “The City That Never Sleeps” is closing and at almost 38, it may just be time for him to go to a legitimate contender to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup, a la Ray Bourque back in 2000 who won the following year with Colorado.
Moving him, however, won’t be easy: Lundqvist has a no-movement clause and would have to approve of any trade — and he loves New York.
As he told the “New York Post’s” Larry Brooks back in May after he hinted his career may not end with the Rangers, “My thinking hasn’t changed. The organization and I are on the same page. What I meant is that a player never becomes bigger or more important than an organization. My dream and goal is still to win the Cup in New York before I retire but at the same time, I as a player will be understanding of the position we are in and the process we are in.”
So even if Lundqvist was on board, and let’s be real he would much rather be in net than on the bench watching like he’s been, where would he go? Before the season started, that same Avalanche team was one many experts had pegged as a Cup-ready team. They just lost Philipp Grubauer indefinitely with a lower-body injury but are still one of the top teams in the Western Conference, and everyone saw what happened with the Hurricanes Saturday night; however, its doubtful the Rangers would trade him to a team they’re competing with for a possible playoff spot.
Of course, losing Lundqvist would leave a big hole for the fanbase and whether or not he’ll actually head out of New York is unknown for now. Over the summer? Maybe. Brooks speculated on Feb. 17 that the Rangers may buy him out in June.
Regardless, as Jackie Redmond said, Ranger fans would like nothing more than to see Lundqvist win a Cup — and fully understand it may not be while he’s donning the red, white and blue of the New York Rangers.
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