New York Rangers
Dejection, disbelief, defeat. Those words best describe the looks on the faces of every member of the Rangers Tuesday night. A look that was epitomized on the face of the franchise, Henrik Lundqvist after the sweep by the Hurricanes.
No one wanted to talk about this being a “good experience.” In truth, it was not. The Rangers were exposed for being a team that was not ready for prime time, and it wasn’t because 11 players made their playoff debuts.
The Rangers’ biggest issue was sloppy play and coverage in their own zone. While there is a lot of promise in Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren, the others struggled, in particular Marc Staal and Brendan Smith who turned over the puck too often and at the most inopportune times. Neither is a rookie.
Ultimately, the biggest question facing the team is addressing the three-headed monster in net. In the NHL, two’s a company but three’s a crowd.
NY Rangers fallout: Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist will be 39 years old next season. Although he was not the issue, he did let in a few soft goals early that put the Rangers behind the 8-ball. Against the Hurricanes, that was insurmountable.
Of course, these two games against Carolina were only a verification of the slow decline in his game over the last two seasons. Don’t get me wrong, Hank can still play, but he needs to be on a legit contender that can play solid defense.
“He battled his ass off like he always does,” a saddened Chris Kreider said after the series. The longtime teammates went to war together for some of the great runs in Rangers history from 2012 to 2015. “He deserved better from us.” Kreider finished. Truer words have never been spoken.
New York Rangers
Now the question remains, what will Lundqvist and the Rangers decide to do? Before COVID-19, there were talks of a buyout of his final year or possibly a trade. I don’t think a buyout is in the cards, as it will only save them around $3 million on his $8.5 million deal. While a trade could be figured out, this is a whole new world with a flat cap. Other contenders might not be able to afford him.
Here’s the other factor: The next NHL season is going to start almost four months from now. Lundqvist, who spent a lot of time in Sweden during the pause, practiced with his brother Joel at Frolunda’s training facility.
Here’s what I know: The SHL season will start before the NHL’s. Lundqvist may very well retire and join his brother for one season with Frolunda. After that, he could make one last ditch for the Cup with a contender at 40.
New York Rangers
A Lundqvist retirement will be a final gift to a franchise he’s given so much to. Should he do so, the Rangers will regain the full $8.5 million. Don’t get it wrong, Lundqvist wanted to finish his contract here, but the fallout from the pandemic might force him to change his plans.
While a trade could be figured out, the flat cap makes it difficult. Other contenders may not be able to find a way to fit in Hank even if the Rangers were to eat half his salary.
Henrik Lundqvist hints at his future
The notion of Henrik retiring wasn’t even a consideration before these playoffs. Matter of fact, this is what Lundqvist told Swedish reporter, Johan Rylander during the pause in May.
“It’s clear that I’m thinking about how much I love hockey and how long I think I can continue, or even want to continue. I also realized that I can’t look that far ahead.” Lundqvist then finished his interview by leaving a question of his own. “Now we are ready to run this summer and this season. I also know that in November and December last year, when I was at my best, I played as well as I did several years before. It was incredibly fun. If I can I find a situation where I play and deliver like that – why not continue?”
Here’s the problem with continuing for the 38 year-old tender, the next NHL season is going to start almost four months from now. That’s a lot of time off for a goalie who fought hard to play a hopeful long playoff run. Think about it, just two games in an 8 month span? Not optimal for an aging goaltender.
Henrik Lundqvist retirement rumors
Here’s what I know, the SHL season will start before the NHL’s. During the pause, Lundqvist spent a lot of time in Sweden with his brother Joel at Frolunda’s training facility. Sources based in Sweden told me that Henrik Lundqvist may very well retire and join his brother for one season with Frolunda. After that, he could make an NHL comeback for the Cup with a contender at 40.
A Lundqvist retirement will be a final gift to a franchise he’s given so much to. Should he do so, the Rangers will regain the full $8.5 million. Don’t get it wrong, Henrik wanted to finish his contract here, but the fallout from the pandemic may have changed his plans.
This article originally appeared at Forever Blueshirts.