There’s been no player who’s been more the face of the New York Rangers than Henrik Lundqvist.
For the past eight seasons he’s been a workhorse (four seasons of 70-plus games played), he’s been exceptional (2012 Vezina Trophy winner), and he’s been a role model (and supermodel) in the community. Basically, he’s the perfect guy to be playing in New York City.
What if he wasn’t there anymore though? There’s a possibility that could happen after this season.
Lundqvist is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and there’s no doubt he’d be able to command any salary he’d want on the open market. While he’d be 31 years old next summer, teams in need of a No. 1 goalie would fall all over themselves to get him.
He’s said he can’t see himself leaving the Rangers and he’s not even thinking about free agency. At some point he’s going to have to do that, however, and if he goes elsewhere GM Glen Sather is going to be in quite a bind.
If the Rangers tried to go to a goalie from within, the way they did with Lundqvist back in 2005, their crew of prospects isn’t exactly hot.
Free agency? There are possibilities there if other teams made like the Rangers and didn’t take care of their own.
Other possible 2014 free agent No. 1 goalies include: Jonas Hiller, Ryan Miller, Corey Crawford, Semyon Varlamov (RFA), Devan Dubnyk, Martin Brodeur, Evgeni Nabokov, Robin Lehner (RFA), Ray Emery, Steve Mason (RFA), Tomas Vokoun, Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott, Anders Lindback (RFA), and James Reimer (RFA).
You have to assume many teams will re-sign their own guys, so many of these names will be knocked off before next summer.
If Sather can’t get a deal worked out with Lundqvist there are some options to work with here, but for the Rangers that’s a worst-case scenario. The right move is to make sure King Henrik finishes his career as a Ranger at a price that won’t make him start thinking of other cities to play in.