The first buyout window in the NHL opens on September 25. For those expecting the Rangers to announce a Henrik Lundqvist buyout, you might be waiting longer than expected. The Rangers were likely not going to buyout Hank the second the window opened at 5pm, it would have been disrespectful. While many still expected him to be bought out before free agency on October 8, that may not happen either. In fact, the NY Rangers may wait until after arbitration, when the second buyout window opens.
Second Buyout Window
There is a second buyout window that the Rangers can use. That window will be around late October, whenever arbitration hearings are set to close. All the Rangers need is one player to elect to go to arbitration (or themselves elect to go to arbitration). The case doesn’t even need to actually make it there, either player or team need to just file the paperwork.
The Rangers have five arbitration eligible RFAs this season: Brendan Lemieux, Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, Phil Di Giuseppe, and Alex Georgiev. Even if the Rangers are unlikely to keep all five, it is likely at least one files for arbitration. Just filing opens that second buyout window.
The Market Will Settle
There are a ton of goalies on the market. Most are free agents. Brooksie beat me to it here, but the market is likely to settle a few weeks after free agency opens. The UFAs, at least the ones teams want to sign, will likely be signed by that point. That leaves only trades open to teams that missed out. It’s unlikely Hank or Georgiev trade scenarios can compete with a UFA Braden Holtby.
There are two trade scenarios here. The first is a Hank trade, which is more beneficial to both player and team. The Rangers would get an extra $1.25 million in cap space this year and avoid a cap hit in 2021-2022. Hank wouldn’t have to go through the buyout process.
Of course, the trade market could open for Alex Georgiev as well, which would certainly be unexpected. Maybe a team, missing out on a UFA goalie, wants to overpay for a team and cost controlled goalie. Everyone wants to dismiss this, but it’s still a possibility.
Don’t expect a quick end to the Henrik Lundqvist era in New York. Arbitration will open the second buyout window for the NY Rangers, which gives them more options. This is all about kicking the can as far down the road as possible.