Players

On Henrik Lundqvist’s future with the Rangers

Future Hall of Famer at a crossroads

Following the trade deadline on Monday, John Davidson and Jeff Gorton held a press conference to discuss the day’s deals. It was natural that a question about Henrik Lundqvist popped up, and JD brushed it aside by saying everything that has been done has been discussed with Hank and with his full knowledge. There was no undercutting and no pressuring to push him out. “Several discussions” were had, and Hank has been the “ultimate professional.”

Lundqvist was later interviewed, and stated that his focus is on the rest of the season and he will be sitting down with JD, Gorton, and David Quinn after the season to discuss options and next steps. This obviously sounds a little ominous, and if you’re reading the tea leaves then it sounds like there may be a mutual parting of ways this offseason. But the details of that are not overly pretty.

The Buyout

A Lundqvist buyout has been discussed, and quite honestly it doesn’t really make sense. There isn’t much of a cap crunch next season, even less now with Brady Skjei’s contract off the books. If the Rangers were to go down this route, his cap hit next season would be $5.5 million ($3 million savings) and $1.5 million the following season, which is an increase in cap hit for the 2021-2022 season.

This option gives both parties a mutual separation while allowing Lundqvist to pursue other opportunities without restriction. It does give the Rangers a little extra flexibility, but adding cap space to the 2021-2022 season is not ideal.

This is a last resort option for the Rangers. The good news is that they can punt this decision to August, as they will likely have at least one player file for arbitration, opening the second buyout window.

The Trade

Lundqvist would need to waive his no-move clause, which if they are discussing a buyout then this is probably a moot point. If the Rangers were retain 50% of Hank’s salary in a trade, they’d retain $4.25 million for next season and not deal with a cap hit for the 2021-2022 season. That’s obviously the ideal situation for both player and team.

However, that assumes a team is willing to take on Hank’s $4.25 million cap hit. Not many contenders can do that. Carolina is an option here, assuming they send James Reimer’s $3.4 million or Petr Mrazek’s $3.125 million back in a trade. Both of those contracts expire at the end of next season.

This kind of moves assumes a lot, and while it can be workable on paper, there are far too many variables. The biggest variable is what Hank would get on the open market on a one-year deal as a UFA. If it’s under the net cap increase for a team, then a trade doesn’t make sense.

Keep in mind that trading Hank nets the Rangers, at best, a mid-round pick.

Retirement

Hank isn’t retiring, so this isn’t really an option. But there are no cap penalties for the Rangers if he retires.

Keep him – Trade Alex Georgiev

This is the option I have been pushing because to me, it makes the most sense. Again if reading the tea leaves correctly, Igor Shesterkin is the goalie the Rangers want for the future. Georgiev is already a #1 starter on a team with three of them, and with Shesterkin the likely goalie of the future, the Rangers are going to look to trade Georgiev at some point.

Georgiev’s trade value is up in the air at the moment, and it’s probably a good thing that they didn’t trade him before the deadline. His best value is probably as a package deal with a forward who is getting squeezed out of the lineup (Ryan Strome?), much like Antti Raanta a few years ago. The difference is that Georigev is 24, not the 28 that Raanta was.

This is the concept that most are struggling with. Georgiev is the easy trade choice for me because no matter what, he’s on his way out. Be it this summer, next summer, or after his next bridge deal expires, he’s on his way out. But each season the Rangers keep him, he loses a year of cheap team control. Do not underestimate how valuable a cost controlled #1 goalie is.

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  • I’m not 100% against trading Georgiev, it all depends on the compensation returned (it has to be a whopper IMO), I’m just 95% against trading him. Shesterkin and Georgiev arguably give us the best 1-2 punch in the NHL for the foreseeable future — and there’s the added benefit that Georgiev’s trade value should increase (assuming of course he does as well as I believe he can). I go back to the Schneider trade, a #9 pick at the draft — something similar could be in the cards a year or two down the line. I believe in Georgiev, so I’m not worried that he will hurt his stock playing 30-35 games for a couple of more years. besides, if Shesterkin ever gets hurt, I trust that Georgiev can provide the team with near identical results.

    Let’s be brutally honest here, after trading Skjei the Rangers are in the driver’s seat — they have the leverage to manipulate Hank into waiving the NTC. As far as cap hit goes, Rangers can retain half and take a player back with some cap hit (preferably $2-3M). That extra savings for the Rangers of $2-3M allows us to retain a player like Fast, a trusty veteran Swiss army knife.

    A buyout should be out of the question now …

    Re: compensation, it should be better than a mid-rounder. I would suggest a 2nd rounder or a good prospect (not necessarily a TOP one).

    • I have to believe that Gorton has some sort of plan. Remember that there is also an expansion draft in 2 years, and we can only protect 1 goalie.

      I am guessing that Fast and AD get contracts. Strome goes elsewhere and the team backfills with less expensive alternatives on the 3rd & 4th lines and on defense.

      • No, it’s next year and we only need to protect Georgiev for the expansion draft. Shesty is exempt and Hank’s contract expires — so no issue here.

        • Tanto

          Is there a restriction to your thought process? If Hank has a NMC in his contract, can he be exposed to the draft? I’m just thinking out loud!!!!!!!

          • The Lundqvist NMC expires next June along with his contract. The Rangers won’t protect Hank and Seattle won’t draft him. There is no value in drafting a UFA since he becomes a free agent a few weeks after the draft whether drafted or not. I don’t think he is even technically exposed, so drafting him is probably illegal.

            Now, if Hank signs an extension, it is a different matter, but the extension would not include the old NMC. Hank could ask for another NMC, but that would be up to the Rangers to grant or deny.

          • That’s why they traded for the Flyers goalie. To expose him in the expansion draft.

    • Why are the Rangers in the driver’s set after trading Skjei? Because now they have cap room? They worst they can do is not play him, which is what they were doing before the trade too, right? And even if he were to waive the NTC, they still need a partner to trade with. Retirement would be disappointing since we wouldn’t have a chance to really send him off.

      • They’re in the driver’s seat because they don’t absolutely NEED Hank’s cap hit off the books, they could just continue the 3 headed goalie monster — if they want. Hank has no leverage now except for any “feelings” the Rangers might have about his prior service — which would be bad for business, but good for PR and for Hank’s sake I guess.

        As far as a send off is concerned should he choose to retire, well that’s up to Quinn (based on a multitude of factors).

  • I generally agree with you here, but where I digress is I think Hank may retire and they will work some arrangement to keep him whole on the $5.5 mill left to pay out on his contract. There were allegedly no offers for Hank at the trade deadline per multiple sources. When you consider the cap space and need Colorado had and Carolina to a lesser extent, there could have been some interest. And why not have him for 2 cup runs? So if that is the case, at the trade deadline, what changes now? And I doubt Hank will waive to go somewhere like Ottawa or some other rebuilding team.(who would blame him) So that leaves buy out or retirement as the likely options. I agree buy out doesn’t make sense. I’m fine with trading Georgiev, but he’s an RFA and will we get back more for him in a trade than we will if we sign him to a multi year low cap hit deal? I don’t think so. You never get value for goalies. And teams know you have 3, so no one is going to step up and pay up for Georgiev. Do we go through a whole season with the 3 headed goalie monster? Hank hasn’t played since January, why would that change next year? Also of all the cup contending teams, where would he go that he would be the #1 goalie? Another problem. So realistically the most amicable way to end things is for him to retire and take a job in the organization. They give him a $5.5 mill signing bonus for the new job, and things end fine.

    • I tend to agree with you. I am a bit concerned that it looks like we are really circumventing his contract, which I am sure the Players Assoc. is not a fan of.

      Also note that the Shesty injury may actually mean that Hank gets back into the rotation. Could be good, bad or horrific for the Rangers and Hank.

    • That would be a clear violation. If they’re doing this then they would have to be much much much more subtle (plausible deniability) — like give him multiple jobs: Assistant GM, some PR job, some broadcasting and then perhaps arranging some “outside work” paid by a separate entity not affiliated with the team or the Garden. In the NY market I would think that’s quite doable to be honest.

      Retirement is a tough pill to swallow for any professional athlete. He still has gas left in the tank, but we’re blessed with 2 exceptional young goalies that can’t be held down in any way shape or form.

      I think it just makes sense to not think about this until mid to late June. You never know, between now and then the landscape out there might change re: some of these playoff teams.

  • From a Ranger standpoint, buying Hank is not a great option. This is true. But it still may happen. Look at it from Hank’s perspective. It costs him $1.5M and in return he becomes a UFA. He could sign a one year contract with Toronto for $1.5M (which they can likely afford), get his money back, and maybe take the starting job from Freddy Andersen – and if $1.5M is too pricey, he doesn’t lose much at $1M salary. And there are other teams — Braden Holtby is a free agent and has an .897 save percentage. The Caps might like Hank.

    If Hank does not want to retire and if he does not want to be Shesterkin’s backup (and I can’t imagine that this proud man wants that backup position), a buyout gives him the best possible opportunity to get an optimal situation for next year. But it is crucial that this buyout happen in June and not in August.

    But why would the Rangers do this if it is great for Hank but not so good for them? Duh, because Hank is a legend. The breakup is going to be awkward no matter what, but it is going to be a lot less awkward if Hank is happy with it. And there is the added bonus that a little more cap space next year makes it easier to sign DeAngelo long term instead of a bridge deal.

    AND SURE, if the Rangers can swing a trade that lets Hank go to a favorable situation, he’ll waive his NMC, but I doubt that will happen.

    ***********

    Concerning retirement: If Hank retires, there is a $3M cap hit next year. This makes up the difference between his budgeted cap hit ($8.5M) and actual salary ($5.5M) for next year.

    • Well written. To have the former superstar netminder spend an entire season in the press box because you want him to retire a “Ranger” is friggin ridiculous.

  • Unfortunately I believe they will buyout Hank. This saves him from the embarrassment of waiving the NMC and gives him the “honor” of choosing his own future destiny (team). Gorton will see some cap relief next season, as Dave stated, and take a hit the following year.

    I do think, however, this will eliminate a Staal buyout which I also think became less necessary with the Skeij trade.

  • So what is Henrik worth? How much does he have?
    How much will his legacy make after next season?

    Where does the last 5.5 million fit into all of this?

    If it’s true that other teams didn’t see adding him helps them achieve the cup, then what’s does this do towards his next decision.

    I would think a modest role in the NY Rangers organization coupled with his legacy deals and new ventures is more then what’s left on his contract come this summer.

    I have tickets for April 4th, I think I may be seeing the last game at the garden for the King.

    HENRIK!!! HENRIK!!! HENRIK!!!

  • Here is where I will piss off a few people, but here we go.

    Hank is no longer the King, and as much as I love the guy, he is over the hill!

    I would not buy him out, even if it’s only on principle. Look the man can’t play the way he did, and if he won’t wave his NMC, sit him on the pine and watch him atrophy his skills. The team tried to be accommodating to Hank his entire career, how about reciprocating? If his ego will get hurt, sorry my friend, get over it.

    Now if Hank agrees to retire, he walks away with head held high, on his terms, and as Tanto posted, work out a deal to make him whole in other capacities. I have in the past stated that Hank should be the face of the organization, replacing Rod Gilbert, and be employed for the rest of his life by us. Now if he would like a position similar to what I described, Hank has to swallow some crow, and be a man, accept his limitations, and accept this offer. If he wants to play hardball, withdraw the offer, and let him see what team wants to take him on after sitting for an entire year. It’s a two way street, and again Hank the ball is in your court!!!!!!

    This is a business after all……….

    • Actually Walt, you don’t know whether or not Hank was willing to waive his NMC. Literally all you know is that he was not traded and whatever it is that people want fans to believe.

      It may very well be that two years ago he refused to be traded. However, I believe that he was open to a trade this spring and it simply did not happen. I do not believe that another team would have taken his contract on – even with half retained. If I am right, it would have been embarrassing to tell people Hank agreed to be traded but there were no takers.

      ***********

      A second point – maybe it does serve Hank right to have to spend the year as a backup. But disgruntled players are bad for team morale. There is a cost to teaching him a lesson.

    • Thank you Walt….stated perfectly. I’m glad someone else said it, I’d get lambasted, or possibly like on another site, which shall remain nameless, I’d get banned for an unpopular opinion of the “king”.

      • Supermaz

        I’m not a Hank hater, never was, but the facts are the facts, he is washed up, and he shouldn’t hold the team hostage. He has a place within the Ranger family, if he wants it!!!!!

    • I would not buy Hank out. I think he will be traded after the season…. Hank stated that he is not retiring.

  • I personally am hoping the media puts this subject on the back burner for now. I do not know how many starts Henrik will get over the next 6+ weeks or so but the only thing (at least for now) I want on his mind is winning games…..Lets get into the playoff Rangers …….Lets Go Rangers !!!!

  • unrelated news — in Hartford, Yegor Rykov has been a healthy scratch six of the last eight games. FWIW, he’s a -9 on a good team.

  • Lundqvist play has diminished the last few years. That has been blatantly obvious to those out there in the hockey world but perhaps not so to those still living in the Henk wonder years.

    Henks handing over the torch to Igor and George signifies an end of a very successful Lundqvist era and a beginning of another one full of hope and excitement.

    The classy thing to do is to buy Lundqvist out after this year. For him to have to spent the season in the press box or on the bench is no way to treat a player who once carried this franchise on his back.

  • Make sure that when Igor comes back from his injury, he’s still playing like the goalie he was before the car accident before any big movements are made with Georgiev.

  • I think Dave’s right, Georgiev is getting traded. Up until the Skjei trade, there was a cap crunch, and that is where Georgiev was the most valuable to the Rangers (good and cheap). Now, that they can afford to keep Hank, it makes no sense to force something (buyout/trade with no return) as they all make the Rangers look bad. If you keep Georgiev, the number of starts he’s going to need to increase his trade value and skills (he wants to be a No 1) while giving the lion’s share to Igor is not going to work. And that is where Hank slides into the backup. He may not be happy about it. But he also may just want to remain a Ranger… Who knows he might grab a real cheap single year contract for 2021/2022 as Igor’s backup, he’ll keep climbing the wins list and he gets to stay in NY…

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