Goaltending

Are we all misreading this goalie rotation and what it means?

Perhaps there is more than meets the eye

As the Rangers stay the course with their three headed goalie monster, there is more and more chatter about what the Rangers are going to do to alleviate the issue. All the focus is on Henrik Lundqvist, the face of the franchise, and his $8.5 million contract that expires at the end of next season. There’s good reason there, even if I disagree.

Lundqvist’s legacy and current contract aside for a moment, it’s clear the three-man rotation is more of a two-man rotation. Lundqvist has started four games in two months, with one brief appearance in relief sprinkled in. What I find to be interesting is that despite the lack of playing time, Hank has dressed as the backup for every single game. He has not once been the healthy scratch.

What We’ve Been Told

The Rangers are actively shopping Lundqvist and plan on buying him out this summer if they can’t get him to waive his no-move clause. This is going to be an ugly end to Lundqvist’s career as a Ranger, and he will chase a Stanley Cup elsewhere, possibly in Colorado.

This would make sense if Lundqvist wasn’t Lundqvist and didn’t have the legacy the guy has in New York. He has 100% earned that final year at $5.5 million ($8.5 million cap hit). The guy is still capable, and I think we all knew that the contract in the final two years would be rough. Welcome to those final two years.

No matter the way they go about it, there is no amicable end to this relationship if it ends before the contract is up, and that’s what we are being told will happen.

What We Are Missing

Hank hasn’t been a scratch. He’s very clearly the backup goalie for the Igor Shesterkin/Alex Georgiev tandem. Whichever kid is hotter starts. The Rangers are getting very good, very long looks at their young goalies. It’s clear Shesterkin has the lead in the race, but Georgiev has made things interesting.

What we are missing is that this may not be the Rangers “forcing Henrik Lundqvist out the door.” This is the Rangers seeing what they have and making the best decision they possibly can for the future of the team. Lundqvist’s contract, while expensive, isn’t a concern in the grand scheme of things for next season.

The trade market for a goalie right now, especially an expensive 38 year old goalie, isn’t going to be pretty. There would be significantly more value for one of the younger goalies at the draft. This is important, because at some point the Rangers are going to need to make a choice.

Educated Guess Conclusion

Perhaps I suffer from extreme optimism. However I think the Rangers are well aware of their situation with Georgiev and Shesterkin. They are going to run those two out there for the rest of the year, make a decision on which goalie they want to keep, and then trade the other at the draft. This way they make an educated decision on their netminder of the future.

Meanwhile Hank will slide into a backup goalie role, the role he currently has. Yes he will be the most expensive backup goalie in NHL history, but as previously mentioned, he’s earned that right to go out on his own terms. After all, the Rangers don’t want to be compared to the Giants and how they handled Eli Manning. They’d rather be compared to the Yankees and how they handled Derek Jeter.

Or maybe I just have extra thick rose colored glasses on.

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  • Great call on Bank being the backup for all the games be doesn’t start never noticed that but very true.. I just don’t see a buyout.. I like Georgiev but looks like he’s the one out. Thing is I’m not sold on Huska down on AHL and may really miss Georgiev

  • If Brian Leetch could be traded, so can Hank. Welcome to the real world. At this point the facts speak for themselves. Hank is the number 2 to the Tsar, and the Tsar is 7-1 on a weak NHL team. Enough handwringing over how this is gonna play out, Hank is being a pro about the situation. As a Lundqvist fan I can think of no better way to shut his detractors up than for him to win a Cup in Colorado this year.

    • A little different nowadays – when Leetch was traded there was no salary cap and few, if any, no-move clauses. The idea makes sense because yes, anyone can be traded, but it is significantly harder nowadays.

      • Except no self-respecting player wants to sit on the bench or be scratched nowadays … and no star playing goalie wants to be a backup. By manipulating pride the right way you eliminate the no-trade clause. As far as salary cap, the Rangers can easily eat up half while still greatly benefiting.

        Don’t look at these issues as handicaps, but as opportunities — the best GMs would.

        • I gave up trying to read other people’s minds, particularly those of people who I’ve never even met, a long time ago. Hank is in control of his own destiny, and will do whatever he thinks is best for him, and his family.

  • The best case scenario would be that Hank walks into the front office, and announces that he will retire, and that he will work for the Rangers for the rest of his life as our “Face of the Organization”.

    I would hate for an ugly divorce to take place, and that we as fans will all have a lousy taste in our mouths.

    Hank, the balls in your end of the court, make your choice!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Dave

          This moron goes on down the list and give everyone thumbs down, adds nothing to the conversation, and is trolling this site. Sorry but he is an idiot! If he had something to say that we either agree, or disagree with fine, but to act like a duuussshh is nonsense……….

          • It could just be that someone doesn’t agree with you. I highly doubt someone is spending the time to thumbs down every comment. But hey, if they are, more pageviews means more ad revenue to keep the lights on around here.

    • No doubt that Hank has the ball in his court. At the moment I belevie he’s just trying to take this all in but soon the dust settles…. Than I suspect a buyout(50/50 assuming calls for it) so he can have more room to maneuver and finesse his way on any team he so chooses.

      He would want to stay in the east and in this division imo. The very least the East coast where there is more entertaining brand of hockey. He can maintain his rep of being the “King” in these following cities.

      1) Might be a shocker but I truly think Philly is going to be on top of his wishlist. AV, system wise, young team that will only get younger. I know he’s good friends with Hayes (going by the Chiclets interviews and activities away from the rink) which will integrate him very fast in that locker room seeing how popular Hayzie is. They will probably get 90 point Johnny hockey soon. I think Hanky would love to continue to come to MSG 2-3 times per year and put it to his old team.

      2) It might not be the Metro but Boston could supply what Hank wants. Vet core that seems to have everything down including a direction to always go for the cup.

      3) Tampa for the same reasons as 1-2 up above but this time on steroids.

      4) Honorable mention goes to Washington. It’s been 5 years since the last real rival game.

      I don’t see him wanting to go out west as much. If he does than I secretly want to see him go to Vegas.

      • Avery,

        If Lundqvist holds out for a buyout I can assure you he won’t have an opportunity with the Rangers post retirement so I have a hard time believing that is Lundqvist’s agenda. Especially if he ends up going to a team next year that had a proper offer on the table this year (ie Colorado). No way Philly pushes Corey Hart aside for Lundqvist. Same for Raask. I don’t really know the situation in TB or Wash. If he is truly open to the idea of being traded then Colorado is a better opportunity the next two playoffs than any of the teams mentioned. I do applaud him for his professionalism through all this but it doesn’t provide any hints as to what is really going on behind the scenes. My best guess is that a much bigger trade (including 1-2 more payers like Kreider) is in the works with Colorado thus the delay.

        • Yeah I didn’t understand your first paragraph about post retirement era…

          Anyway’s yeah I think Hank would take his chance to beat out someone like Hart to bring his brand to Philly. Besides maybe he’s already accepted that he’s going have to split time in the net? If that’s the case than for sure Philly or Boston are realistic options for him. Rask is always hurt and Hart along with AV could use a reliable goalie who wants to add a Stanley Cup to his resume (see Girouix). There’s opportunity over there regardless of how strong his confidence is and if it’s still high than those places makes the most sense.

          Hank seems like a family man that wouldn’t want to leave his fam back home in NYC for 2+ months. We all know how superstitious he is, so going to Colorado out of the blue oppose to moving down there in the summer feels like a long shot. I think he’s waiting for the offseason to move on, probably wouldn’t feel like himself living out of a hotel after getting pushed out of NY.

          • Philly feels about Hart the way we do about Shesty. Philly will not sign Lundqvist.

      • Andy

        I suspect that they are indeed trying to be accomandaing to Hank, and work as best they can to do the right thing. I merely stated that if Hank wanted to walk away with his head high, on his terms, and still be a part of this organization, he may consider retirement. I’ll support his decision, whatever it is, because he had a great run with us, and I want nothing but the best for the man!!!!!!

  • Pure speculation on my part, but I am not so sure that Hank would like to spend the remainder of his career as a back-up goalie. He is a guy who has thrived on work his entire career and who has usually struggled after layoffs. If he found himself struggling in a back-up role I think that it would eat at him. He also, understandably, has a great deal of pride.

    That being said, I think he probably would prefer to remain a Ranger through the end of his contract, but the back-up role MIGHT convince him to do otherwise.

  • It’s impossible not to admit how frightening this subject matter is. Henrik has provided this team a way to win for over a decade.

    How many times in his entire career wearing the Rangers #30 have we honestly said that he costs us a game…

    HENRIK HENRIK HENRIK ! ! !

    The time has come though, while it’s nice to think the Club is trying to do what’s right for his legacy, the cold hard truth is they are doing what’s best for the NY Rangers.

    It’s up to Henrik if he wants to ride his contract out knowing it’s not the best thing for the club.

    I expect him at this point to move on, for both himself and the Rangers.

    Anything less will stain his legacy IMO.

    HENRIK – Do the Right Thing.

    Adios, Ciao!

    LGR!!!

    • The right thing is allowing the Rangers to showcase George and build up his trade value ahead of the draft as much as possible…. which he is doing admirably. Then serving as capable backup to Shesty who is our goalie of the present and future while, quietly adding a few Ws here and there over the next couple seasons when he gets his spot starts.

      If the guy was playing poorly, then sure, go elsewhere. But he is performing just fine for a backup goalie, which he is now. Trading Lundy nets us a 3rd??? round pick. Trading George gets us much much more. And with Shesty being all world, there is no debate over which one we want long term.

      Georgiev is a good goalie…. but holy christmas if the Rangers don’t cash in when they can it will be a classic case of overplaying their hand.

      • I would be fine, from an asset management stand point, trading Hank and Georgiev. But Hank now. Colorado is the only play off team who can accommodate his cap hit. The return won’t be great, but you will get cap relief and goalie rotation relief. And we will most likely have to retain some salary.

        Then look to trade Georgiev at the draft. We are no longer carrying 3 goalies so not desperate to move him. That will improve his value.And he will play a chunk of games at the end of the season to show case him. He’ll still be an RFA and won’t be too expensive. And I think he will have better value. If the return is not there you can always keep Georgiev. You now have options. Tyler Wall is a year or 2 away from getting a look as a backup. At that point we’ll have The Shestyorkin Wall…

  • Why is everyone regurgitating the Hank wants a cup garbage instead of talking about the real elephant in the room…… Wins?!?!?

    Obviously he wants a cup, who doesn’t. But accepting a trade to Colorado or wherever is a crapshoot. No one knows who is going to win the hardware. Look at how Lumbus whooped the historic Bolts team last year.

    If Lundqvist goes anywhere, the main impetus will be for starts, so he can keep getting Wins and climb the all time wins list. That is the more tangible end. Currently MAF is separating himself from Lundy and idling on the NYR bench isn’t helping his cause.

    It is almost a certainty that George gets moved at the draft and Lundy serves as back up next year. And he may sign for another year or two after- as backup. So he’s looking at 30/30/30 or so starts over the next 3 years. Assume he wins half, that is 45 more wins (and probably a little optimistic. He should eclipse 500 all time wins which is enough to pass Luongo for 3rd. However, MAF is going to earn more starting for Vegas the next couple years. MAF is 33 and signed for 2 more years at 7 million, so it’s very likely he plays longer and outpaces Hank regardless.

    BUT if I am Hank, I am basing my decision on my prospects of starting enough games over the remainder of my career to surpass Belfour and Luongo in Wins. That is it and that is all.

    I can all but guarantee that Hank, JD, Gorton and co have talked it out and will give Hank just enough starts over the next few years to allow him a real chance at getting that magic 500 W…..and Hank is probably happy doing that all in a NYR sweater, more so than chasing a cup or piling on a few more W’s elsewhere.

    For reference, here is the list:

    1 Brodeur 691
    2 Roy 551
    3 Luongo 489
    4 Belfour 484
    5 MAF 463
    6 Lundy 459

    Fun Fact (Lundy is the only non-Canadian higher than 13)

    • What you said in your last two posts makes a lot of sense. One, we aren’t getting anything of real value back for a Lundqvist trade and his salary next year doesn’t really impact other RFA/UFA signs as they will all be multiple years. The other being, I think he would be quite comfortable backing up Shesty next year to close out his career. And of course Gorg’s value increasing for draft day trade. This theory matches up pretty well with how both Lundqvist and Rangers FO is handling the 3 headed monster. Another words Lundqvist is content as next year it will be back to 2 goalies and about 30 games. Could even be a 1 year extension for another 30 and one last chance at a cup and 3rd on all time Wins list.

    • You make some excellent points, but if I’m the Ranger GM I want to move him and keep Georgiev (unless someone is blowing me a way with real value in a trade). I believe the longer we keep Georgiev the better his value — but that’s just my opinion.

  • Leaky was the face of the franchise. The touch has now been turned over to Igor and George. These netminders give the club the same kind of brilliant goaltending that Lundqvist did when he was in his prime. Davidson was pushed out by Beezer. Beezer traded to make room for Richter. Richter stepped aside for Henk. Tis the circle of life Ranger bloggers.

    • Who the hell is “Leaky”? Davidson was “pushed out” by bad knees after the 1979/80 season, and “Beezer” didn’t take over as their starting goalie until 1985/86. Vanbiesbrouck wasn’t traded to make room for Richter. They played together for four years.

  • I don’t understand something, why is it many people refer to athletes and say he’s earned the right to do this or that? Was he not paid every year he played? Did he do anyone a favor and not get his money. I’m so sick of people acting like they are GODS or something else holy. They were paid and nobody owes anybody anything! These guys make more in a year then some people make in a life time. So PLEASE spare me with he earned the right nonsense! I LOVE Hank, I think he’s the greatest Ranger goalie in our history bar none. The one thing I don’t get is why any athlete wouldn’t want to go to another team and win a championship.

  • Hank as backup Georgiev and Shesterkin the rest of the season sounds like the best alternative. The kids learn from the King, who ends his Ranger career helping the team, and his dignity, and the Rangers look like a team with class. The Leetch trade tarnished the franchise.

  • There is a huge difference between a buyout and a trade which is being ignored. A team acquiring Hank in trade has a $4.25M cap hit next year and relatively few teams want that. A team signing unrestricted free agent Lundqvist for $1.5M has a pretty reasonable cap hit.

    In scenario 1, Hank goes to the one team (if any) that will take him. In scenario 2, Hank has options. Assuming Hank puts his own interests first (which is what you are sort of supposed to do in a business like this), he will accept a trade if he is happy with going to the proposed trading partner. More likely, he will opt for the buyout because he gets to choose his new team.

    I picked the number $1.5M because that salary will recover every penny he loses in the buyout. I find it hard to believe that Hank would prefer to be the Ranger backup than to be a starter elsewhere.

    Truthfully, buying out Lundqvist is not particularly in the best interests of the Rangers. Most of the small cap savings go to Georgiev. Nor do the Rangers need to keep Georgiev to compete for the goalie of the future job. That is decided. But the buyout is in Hank’s best interests and that is why it will happen.

  • This situation reminds me of the 49ers QB situation in the early 90s (sorry different sports but).

    They had Joe Montana, arguably the GOAT, and his heir apparent Steve Young, another HOF anxiously waiting in the wings, plus a serviceable 2nd backup named Steve Bono.

    As much as people wanted Montana to end his career as a 49er, he ended up asking for a trade (ended up in KC), Young won a SB, and Bono became the back-up.

    I love Hank but if he wants to play for a few more years as a starter, he may have to go to another venue (that is how good Shesterkin is)

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