Making a cool $8.5 million a year, could the New York Rangers actually commit to a full rebuild with Henrik Lundqvist in the picture?
The intent here isn’t to bash or undermine Henrik Lundqvist in the least. Instead, it’s an attempt to investigate at how he has handcuffed the team and their chances of winning a Stanley Cup in the future.
Any New York sports fan never wants to hear that their team is going to go through the rebuilding process. New York Rangers fans have been lucky to say that hasn’t been the case with Henrik Lundqvist in net over the last decade and change.
Throughout Lundqvist’s career, the Rangers have felt that they have had the chance to contend for the Stanley Cup because they have one of the best goalies in the world between the pipes. Even though he is up in the latter stages of his career, this feeling still exists. This is the feeling you have to have when you have the best goalie in franchise history still on the team.
But the Rangers need to realize that as long as Lundqvist is apart of the picture that he is preventing them focusing on the future. At the end of this season, the Rangers are going to have to address where they are as an organization in a loaded Metropolitan Division.
For a team to even consider rebuilding, they need to look at the veterans they have and if it’s possible to get rid of them. Lundqvist practically has an immovable contract with a cap hit of $8.5 million over the next three seasons. But what makes it impossible to move him is his full no-move clause. Lundqvist loves New York and it would have to take a serious amount of convincing for him to waive that no move clause.
A common theme over the last five seasons is that the Rangers have gone for the win now move at the trade deadline.
These moves were made to give “The King” a chance of bringing the Rangers their first championship since 1994. As long as Lundqvist gives the Rangers a chance to win, the more they’ll mortgage the future to go all in. By going all in and trading away draft picks and prospects, the Rangers would be making a huge mistake.
The constant trading of draft picks has come to hurt this organization. They rebuilt on the fly this past offseason but that hasn’t really translated well. A major part of that is because players like Anthony Duclair and Aleksi Saarela, who could have made a major impact on this team, were moved in win-now deals. They also traded away two first-round picks for Martin St. Louis in the 2013-14 season.
During the 2015-16 season, the Rangers refused to trade Keith Yandle at the trade deadline with the team not playing too well and Yandle an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Instead of strengthening their farm system, the team decided to go for it again for Lundqvist but they fell short. At the end of the playoffs, they traded Yandle’s rites for two draft picks, they could have gotten more if they moved him at the deadline.
The team also decided to go all in in free agency with signings of Brad Richards and Kevin Shattenkirk. Richards helped lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014, but the team decided that it was time to move on after three seasons. Shattenkirk is in his first season with the Rangers but is another example of the Rangers going all in for Lundqvist.
This is how Lundqvist has held this team back, not by his play, but by the fact that he’s Henrik Lundqvist and you have to go all in for him. As long as he remains a member of the Rangers organization they can never be in the position to rebuild.
It’s a fact and we all know it.