As everyone knows, all good things must come to an end. But it doesn’t change the feelings that arise when one of the greatest players of all time is nearing the end of his playing career.
Regardless of your allegiances, you cannot deny that Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies this league has ever seen. His career totals speak for themselves
- 867 Games Played
- 2.42 Goals Against Average
- .918 Save Percentage
- 63 Shut Outs
- 5 Time All Star (09,11,12,18,19)
- 1 Vezina Trophy (2011-2012)
Putting together eleven 30-win seasons in his first 12 seasons, Lundqvist has been dominant since he came into the league. He would’ve achieved 12 30-win seasons in a row if it weren’t for the lockout-shortened season of 2012-2013. The year that should’ve earned his second Vezina Trophy, Lundqvist had a league leading 24 wins, along with a 2.05 GAA. Like most athletes, a decline is inevitable, and Lundqvist has illustrated this during the past few years. Over the last 3 seasons, Lundqvist has posted a 48-52-18 record, with a .911 save percentage and a 3.06 GAA. This is far cry from what we were used to seeing from King Henrik.
Looking to the Future
It’s no secret what the New York Rangers management has in the works for the team. Their rebuild has been well documented and has largely been successful. Landing the second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft certainly helped push the rebuild into full gear. Bringing in a superstar winger, Artemi Panarin, and a solid defensemen, Jacob Trouba, the Rangers have put themselves in a great position for the future. But the goaltending situation remains murky. Currently, the New York Rangers have Alexandar Georgiev, backup to Lundqvist, and Igor Shesterkin, a top goalie prospect, as their likely options within the organization.
Georgiev, 23, has been a pleasant surprise in his young career. The 2018-19 season was his second in the league. He appeared in 33 games, 30 were starts, and finished with a 14-13 record with a .914 save percentage (sv%) and a 2.91 goals against average (GAA). Georgiev is off to a slow start this season but, to be fair, so is the rest of the team.
Igor Shesterkin, 23, is seen as the heir apparent to Henrik Lundqvist. He has spent the last three years dominating the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), including a 20-4-4 campaign in 2018-19, with a 1.11 GAA and a .953 sv%. Some were unsure as to how Shesterkin would adapt to the North American style and pace of hockey, but doubters have been proven wrong. Through 10 games with the Hartford Wolfpack, in the American Hockey League (AHL), Shesterkin has a 7-1-2 record with a league leading 1.77 GAA, and a .936 sv%. Needless to say, the transition has been an easy one for Shesterkin.
The Real Conundrum
The current contract situation, paired with the success of the goalies, puts the Rangers in a predicament. Lundqvist is signed through the end of the 2020-2021 season, Georgiev is a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of this season, and Shesterkin just signed his entry level contract (ELC). Lundqvist’s decline has many Rangers fans, and general hockey aficionados, hoping for a Georgiev/Shesterkin tandem next season. This means that Lundqvist would be traded, or bought out, both of which are unrealistic options. A more likely scenario would see Georgiev traded at the deadline for a draft pick, creating a Lundqvist/Shesterkin tandem for next season. A back up goalie would be found after Lundqvist retires.
When Henrik Lundqvist Steps Down
It will assuredly be a dark day when Henrik Lundqvist decides to retire. I, for one, will certainly have my Rangers flag at half mast. But it’s exciting to know that the future is bright!
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