A Henrik Lundqvist Buyout Makes Zero Sense

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 22: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers skates during warmups prior to the game against the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden on December 22, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

While it is true that the New York Rangers need all the cap space they can get their hands on this offseason there are some decisions that should not be made. First and foremost Jeff Gorton and company should not buyout Henrik Lundqvist.

With the first buyout window about to open Friday, the Rangers feet will finally get put to the fire about what to do with their franchise and future Hall of Fame goaltender. Gorton mentioned after the team’s embarrassing showing against Carolina that they will not go into the 2020-2021 season with the three headed goalie monster. Gorton would not say who the odd man out of the carousel will be but many seem to think due to his cap hit and his age that Lundqvist will likely be shown the door.

To the Rangers credit they’ve tried to handle this Lundqvist situation as delicately as possible and have tried to show Hank as much respect as they possibly could to the franchise’s living legend. Unfortunately when you have a situation like this there really is no resolution that will appease everyone. Unfortunately not every story gets the happy ending that many think they deserve and it appears the Lundqvist-Rangers marriage won’t have that storybook ending either. Outside of the Yankees, Giants and Rangers success of 1994 how ironically similar is this to so many of New York’s great athletes of past.

Thanks to Covid-19 essentially shutting down the entire world the NHL will be facing a flat cap for the next three seasons at minimum. With that being the case and the cap staying at 81.5 million for the foreseeable future, the Rangers just can’t afford to carry 8.5 million on the books even for another year. What makes it easier in the mind of Blueshirts brass is that they have two young goalies on cheap contracts, even with Georgiev up this offseason as an RFA he won’t be due for a substantial bump in pay. Not to mention the Rangers find themselves in the position to try and retain some key free agents like Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, Jesper Fast, and Ryan Strome to attempt to re-sign. All of these factors in play are pushing number 30 right on out the door.

The best and most logical explanation to this whole conundrum to me would be to try and pull off a Brooks Orpik situation with Lundqvist. After the Caps won the Cup and were strapped for cash they traded Orpik to the Avalanche who in turn bought him out and he was able to re-sign a team friendly deal in Washington. A situation like that here with Lundqvist might be the most idea and palatable for both sides. Lundqvist has shown on several occasions that he wants to be a New York Ranger for life and moving his money to a team that can absorb his buyout for the next two years and allowing him to return to back up Shesterkin on a team friendly one year deal would be ideal for Jeff Gorton and Henrik Lundqvist both. Of course to eliminate the potential three headed goalie issue, the Rangers could then look to trade Georgiev to a team that misses out on one of Braden Holtby or potentially Jacob Markstrom. There’s going to be a bunch of goalies on the free agent market and there’s only 31 jobs so somebody is going to be looking for a landing spot when the music stops.

The Blueshirts could wind up grabbing another young prospect or even more draft capital for their backup and they can save themselves from another buyout and being forced to have 13 million in dead cap next year. Also not having to buyout your franchise netminder and allowing him the chance to retire with the club that drafted him and the club that he has given his all to would be the best possible ending to such a prolific career.

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