New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been the backbone of the team for years.
Even now, during this period of rebuilding, Lundqvist has chosen to stay. He has shown by his decision to stay that his heart will forever be in New York. Lundqvist has said that he is committed to the rebuild and staying in New York for the long haul.
His current contract expires at the end of the 2020-2021 season, and Lundqvist will hit free agency for the first time at age 39. The average annual value (AAV) on Lundqvist’s current contract is 8.5 million dollars.
Lundqvist has full control over his next destination, but as stated previously, his heart is in New York. If Lundqvist wanted to be traded, he would’ve agreed to waive his no-movement clause last year at the trade deadline when Jeff Gorton, the Ranger’s General Manager, approached him about a trade. At this point in Lundqvist’s career, at his age and with his current salary, it is unlikely he is traded.
The Heir To The Throne
This gives the Rangers two options, let their franchise leader in net walk into free agency or retirement, or offer him a performance bonus laden extension that would allow time for current goaltending prospects to develop at a normal pace. Lundqvist’s apparent heir is Moscow, Russia native, Igor Shestyorkin.
Shestyorkin is currently playing in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg, and reports of his arrival in North America vary. In Nicholas Zarris’ post on Blue Line Station (a New York Ranger FanSided blog site), he mentioned that the Russian goaltender could potentially be in either the NHL or the AHL next season. Yet, there is no confirmation that Shestyorkin will be leaving SKA St. Petersburg. While we don’t know exactly when the 23-year-old will be leaving Russia, it’s worth noting that he’s having a fantastic season. After 26 games played, he owns a 1.19 goals against average (GAA) and a .949 save percentage (SV%).
The potential of not having a starting goalie when Lundqvist’s contract expires should be enough for GM Jeff Gorton to extend the future hall of famer. Gorton should consider a one to two-year extension at an AAV of around 2.5 million. The Rangers GM could also include performance incentives to allow The King of New York (Lundqvist) to earn as much money as possible, but not hamper the team salary wise.
Regardless of his age, Lundqvist has shown the ability to stay healthy and in better physical shape than players half his age. The risk of not having a goaltender is far greater than extending a generational athlete and goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist.
stats from eliteprospects.com and hockey-reference.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals