According to numerous reports, the New York Rangers will buy out the remaining year in Henrik Lundqvist’s contract.
This marks the end of a 15-year run for Lundqvist in New York.
The 38-year-old netminder is in the final year of a seven-year contract that carries an $8.5 million annual cap hit, but he’s owed $5.5 million in total salary next season. Under the buyout scenario, the Rangers will endure a cap hit of $5.5 million next season and $1.5 million the season after that.
The decision to buy out Lundqvist isn’t surprising, with the Rangers opting for the tandem of Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin instead.
It gives the Rangers another $3 million in cap space as a result, adding to the already impressive pile of $23 million in cap space they’ll have for 2020-2021.
Lundqvist started just 26 games this season, a significant drop from the 52 he started in 2018-2019. He picked up just 10 wins, a sure career low, with a career-worst .905 save percentage and 3.16 goals against average.
With Shesterkin sidelined with a groin injury, Lundqvist did see playoff action in the bubble in the Qualifying Round and started Game One and Game Two. But he lost both, allowing seven goals against on 64 Carolina shots.
This is truly the end of an era for the Rangers, who is the franchise’s all-time leader in several goaltending statistics. He sailed out of the box in 2005-2006, starting 50 games in his first NHL season and winning 30.
King Henrik never looked back, generating at least 43 starts in all but one season – his last. He played in 887 career games for New York, registering 459 wins for a career save percentage of .918 and a career goals against average of 2.43.
Prior to this season, Lundqvist registered 129 consecutive post-season starts that dated all the way back to 2006 when he suited up in the first round against the New Jersey Devils.
Lundqvist never did get his Stanley Cup with New York, although he came close in 2014 when the Rangers were felled by the Los Angeles Kings. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2012, was a finalist twice.
And now, one of the most respected and decorated goaltenders in NHL history will test free agency. There are some options around the horn and he’d probably sign a one-year contract that wouldn’t be too pricey for anyone seeking a veteran presence, but time will tell if he locates the right fit.
For now, it’s just time to move on.