With Return to New York, A Henrik Lundqvist Retirement Seems Unlikely

The NY Rangers goalie controversy got a little more interesting. A Henrik Lundqvist retirement had been rumored, but there was nothing substantial to it. Instead, he has returned to New York, indicating he will not play with Frolunda in Sweden this season like the rumors suggested. That appears to not be the case, as Lundqvist is back for his kids to begin the school year.

John Davidson confirmed that he spoke with Lundqvist when the season ended. The conversation ensured him that the Rangers would not carry three goalies next season. This can be interpreted in a few different ways. Now that the Sweden option appears out for Lundqvist, the options change a bit.

The Buyout

A Henrik Lundqvist buyout is still on the table. The Rangers would get $3 million in cap space, but add $1.5 million in dead cap space for the 2021-2022 season. There is certainly an argument that the $3 million for 2020-2021 is more valuable than the $1.5 million in dead space the following year.

A buyout would only occur under two conditions. The first is that there is no trade market for Alex Georgiev. The second is that Lundqvist requests it and wants to pursue a Stanley Cup elsewhere. The Rangers are unlikely to burn bridges with the face of their franchise for the past 15 years. Be forewarned, you may not like where Lundqvist ends up.

An Alex Georgiev Trade

Igor Shesterkin is the starter. No matter what the Rangers do, one of Georgiev or Lundqvist will be the backup. That’s just facts at this point. The Rangers also won’t (note: can’t) trade Henrik Lundqvist. If the buyout isn’t an option, trading Georgiev is the only other option.

Georgiev’s trade value alone is likely not that high. Jake Allen fetched a third round pick yesterday, but that’s a different situation. If he isn’t packaged in a larger deal, getting a Cam Talbot-esque return should be the target. The issue with this is there are 900 or so free agent goalies. None of them are 24 years old though.

Perhaps Gergiev’s greatest trade value is as a piece in a larger deal, perhaps for a 2C or a legit 1LD. The Rangers have the pieces to make something like this work.

Just a Straight Up Retirement

Maybe the return to Frolunda rumors were there just to add a post-retirement activity for Henrik Lundqvist? If Lundqvist is planning to retire, and his kids are rooted in school in New York, then why stay in Sweden? Sure it makes sense, but it doesn’t account for personal life.

Maybe Lundqvist takes his competitive nature to the front office, the way Chris Drury did. Or perhaps he just enjoys retirement.

A Henrik Lundqvist retirement clears up the full $8.5 million cap hit, so it certainly helps the Rangers. It’s just hard to picture Lundqvist retiring with a year left on his deal. He’s ultra competitive, and he’d want one more kick at the can.

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  • Henrik’s children have done school in NY for most of their lives. He isn’t about to change that now. While he probably won’t play in Sweden, that does not mean he will still be with the NYR on opening day. Lots of options open to the probable HOF goalie.

    • He is selling his Midtown dwelling and bought one in Greenwich CT….. there is nothing special is in moving from NY nowadays, but he moved closer to Rangers base and way way less taxes…. he saves all together probably 5-6% on income.

      • Eugene

        He is getting ready to replace Gilbert as the team’s PR face. Good luck to the man, whatever he decides to do………

      • Where did you hear that? I thought he said his kids went to school in NYC and they were starting again soon…

  • Hank just bought a house in Connecticut, he isn’t walking away from 5.5mm, he might not play but he will be on the roster.

  • I really don’t think trading Georgiev and carrying Lundqvist as backup goalie is really being seriously considered.
    (A) He is no longer the quality goalie you want as an NHL #2.
    (B) The Rangers need to structure their team as a post-Hank team and that is simply not possible with Hank on the roster.

    This decision is a life decision and means nothing. I expect a buyout as it is more financially profitable for Lundqvist to do it that way, but he has played his last professional hockey game.

    Personally, were I Ranger management, I would give Hank two choices – either retire and get an appropriate position in the organization OR a buyout with a clean break from the organization – including no number hanging from the rafters the foreseeable future.

    If he insists on a painful breakup, let the pain be shared by both sides.

    Panarin, Lafreniere Shesty, Zib etc are the faces of the Rangers

    • If you were Ranger management you may have just circumvented the CBA by offering a job in exchange for retirement. certainly enough for the league to look into the circumstances.

      • Perhaps – but I don’t think so. Surely discussing Lundqvist’s post-retirement situation before he decides whether or not to retire should not be illegal.

        A key point is salary. If you offer Lundqvist a job in management for this year at more than Jeff Gorton makes, sure that is a violation. But if you offer Hank $700K for the coming season to learn the ropes of management and be an ambassador, how can that be wrong?

        The idea is that Hank takes a short term financial hit (giving up money he won’t actually earn anyway), but gets started on his next stage in life. He doesn’t need the extra $4.5M or $5.5M he get if bought out; he does need a future. And the animosity of a buyout will hurt him also.

        • so the CBA includes a non-exhaustive list of circumvention examples. here is one that I think opens the window to some question about it:

          “A Club and a Player, during the Player’s active career, agree that upon the Player’s retirement, he will receive a sum of money for services to be provided to the Club after retirement.”

          • One can certainly than inquire with the league before proceeding. There are always to standards of course – what is actually proper and what is prescribed by the letter of the law. And these are necessarily different as the law is imperfect.

            What is wrong in spirit is getting a player to retire but then giving him his salary anyway; that is cap circumvention. But hiring a retiring player to a position you actually want to give him at a salary commensurate with that position is not a circumvention in spirit.

            How the league would rule, I cannot say. My guess though is that they would not be concerned. If they on the other hand hired him as an organizational goalie instructor at a salary above that of Allaire, they should rightfully be sanctioned.

        • There are many things that happen behind closed doors in sports……It’s quite possible that Han has been offered a front office position……or not………Either way, Ranger would not be doing anything different than other other sports franchise……..This is not personal, this is business…

    • Just buy him out Ray … and hang his number tout suite from the rafters. He deserves that … sure, it will cost us $1.5M in the second year, but we save cap money overall and Shattenkirk’s big dead cap space hit comes off after next season, so no biggie. He won’t just retire and forfeit millions, that would be asking too much of anyone — I bet you wouldn’t do it.

      • I can’t know for certain if I would do it now, but i am pretty sure I would. What I would have done at his age I don’t know. However, I realize almost no one thinks as I do regarding such matters. For most sadly, entitlement trumps ethics. And make no mistake, insisting on a massive severance to leave a job that you most certainly do not want (backup goalie) is a violation of my ethical code at least.

        But seriously, he doesn’t need the money. Far more important perhaps is his legacy and the buyout is a black mark against him. He is choosing between a glorious exit and an ignominious exist.

        And maybe retirement could be more lucrative than a buyout financially. Could the Rangers donate money to Lundqvist charities?? I mean real charitable contributions, not shams, but the sort of places Hank would have directed his money anyway.

        Of course, the Rangers will buy him out if they have to. And yes, the homage will be quick because it preserving his legacy benefits them.

  • would love to see Hank retire a ranger but not at the expense of carrying that entire salary for another year. usually was a bit of a slow starter anyway who needed a heavy workload to get into his groove, not a great characteristic in a backup less so now at this late stage of his career.

    • Two solid points, Hank has always wanted a constant workload to stay sharp and he has not been a quick starter generally. Add to that the fact that he has been No. 1 for forever and I just don’t see him adapting to a backup role. I cannot pretend to know his thinking, but it seems unlikely to me.

    • I can’t see Hank as a backup anywhere unless guaranteed that he would be the number 1 netminder.

  • Scenario number 1-Hank retires saving 8.5 mil cap space….Hank get front office position.

    Scenario number 2-Hank stands his ground and forces Rangers hand. Team buyout costing us another 1.5 mil dead cap space. Hank signs with Isles or Swamprats from Jersey..ugh..

    Scenario number 3-Georgiev gets traded and Hank stays on as backup..

    I like the first scenario, but there have been grumblings not from just this site that there is interest in Hank from a few teams….one being the Boston Bruins…..where rumors abound that Rask might retire….

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