News travels quickly. With so much available on the internet and social media, it doesn’t take long for rumors to start up. The latest coming from an article in a Swedish paper pertaining to Henrik Lundqvist’s future.
If you go by the English translation, it indicates that Lundqvist is no longer sure he will remain a Ranger for his entire career. But anytime these interview stories come out in Europe, always proceed with extreme caution. Maybe it’s true or maybe it’s not.
It could very well be lost in translation. You never know. What I do realize is at age 37, Lundqvist has two years remaining on a contract that pays him an average cap hit of $8.5 million through 2021. By the time it expires, the Rangers franchise leader in wins (449), shutouts (63), games played (857) and total minutes (50221) will be 39 and unrestricted.
His future is cloudy. Something most loyal Blueshirt fans don’t want to acknowledge. As superb as his 14-year NHL career has been on Broadway, it remains empty minus a Stanley Cup. The best opportunities have come and gone. Deep runs in 2012, ’14 and ’15 feel like ancient history. It’s a sad way to look at it, but also realistic.
Especially considering where the Rangers organization currently is. Fully committed to a rebuild that could get sped up by the potential additions of Kaapo Kakko and big name free agent Artemi Panarin, youth will continue to be served in the Big Apple. Whether Panarin decides to come or not, the Rangers are set up well for the future. Either Kakko or Jack Hughes will be drafted with the second pick depending on the Hudson rival Devils. Along with Russian imports Vitali Kravtsov and Igor Shesterkin, plus former Hobey Baker finalist Adam Fox, there’s cause for optimism.
In regards to the goalie situation, the Rangers have Alexandar Georgiev in reserve ‘if’ Lundqvist changes his mind after the World Championships. If it’s a smokescreen, which most articles overseas are, then King Henrik returns for Year 15 as the starter with Georgiev a capable backup coming off a good rookie season.
Throw in top goalie prospect Shesterkin and they have a lot to look forward to. He and Georgiev are both 23. Adam Huska got into nine games with Hartford after signing out of UConn. He’s 22 and a former 2015 seventh round pick. There’s also Tyler Wall, who bounced back with a good junior year for UMass-Lowell. Olaf Lindbom was taken in the second round last year.
The Blueshirts boast plenty of goalie depth. Obviously, not every netminder is gonna make it. Some could wind up elsewhere while others never see the NHL. You can never have enough goalies.
Given how disappointing ’18-19 was for Lundqvist, he understands the situation. The writing is on the wall. Whether he stays or goes, it’s not going to change GM Jeff Gorton’s long-term plan. He’s proven that already by making difficult decisions on Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard. All correct moves with the best one stealing Mika Zibanejad from Ottawa for Brassard.
It makes representing his home country Sweden in the Worlds important. If he can perform well, Lundqvist can use the tournament as a positive step for ’19-20. That along with how the season goes could help him determine what’s best for him.
Don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Let’s wait and see.