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What if Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t return to New York?

Aug 27, 2013, 3:55 PM EDT

Henrik Lundqvist Getty Images

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.

  1. yondo123 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    What if Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t return to New York?

    — He is….

    • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      You think the Devils thought Parise would leave? Or Alfredsson from the Sens? It’s a slim, slim chance but there’s still a chance. If Sather was smart he’d lock him up to an 8-year deal long before he sniffed free agency. It’s probably a 90% or chance he stays in New York, but if he does leave then the Rangers are absolutely screwed. They have a good roster but Lundqvist is the backbone, much like Brodeur in the 90s-early 2000s (without the Cups). There’s no replacement. And the Rangers have a ton of key guys who need new deals this year.

      • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Aug 27, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        He’s going to be the first 8 Million a season goaltender where ever he signs.

      • blueshirtfan - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:48 PM

        First of all the Devils were alway cheap when it came to players. Always will be. No way they were giving 9 million a year to Parise. He wasn’t even the backbone of the team. Lundqvist is. That said if Sather cannot sign Lundqvist then he better fly out of NY and very fast. Dolan should go into hiding. They won’t let Lundqvist go unless he wants to go himself.

  2. yougotgirouxed - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Dumb question….He’ll obviously come to Philly.

  3. thecheeman - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    This egomaniac will never leave New York unless Los Angeles was in desperate need of a goalie. The celebrities at the red carpet events in Philadelphia don’t look as cool in your Twitter photos.

    • buckyblackhawk - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      Swedes do love the NYC/Miami/Hollywood. Thoses were always the 3 cities Swedes would ask me about when I lived in Stockholm.

    • blueshirtfan - Aug 29, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      Lets see who is the egomanic you root for in NET? Or those yours really suck that bad and you would that to have him on your team.

      • thecheeman - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:39 AM

        Wow were you that mad by my comment you couldn’t write one sentence even close to proper English?

        I’m not usually one for being grammar and syntax police in comments, but you might have just had an aneurysm mid-sentence pal. Consult a physician.

  4. sjsharks66 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    He will change his name to Snake Plissken.

  5. ethanmacleod1685 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    He won’t leave ny

  6. stakex - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    For starters, Lundqvist will probably be signed to an extension in the next couple months. Its unlikely there will be any hurdles in getting a new deal done, and all of this speculation is based on….. well, not a whole lot actually. He wants to stay. They want him to stay. The money isn’t a problem. A deal will be done, no doubt about it.

    Should he leave however, the only real issue for the Rangers is that they have no in-house go to as a replacement. They do still have a solid offense, and a great defense however, and it might not take a super star in net to make them a contender. That’s especially true if AV is able to get more out of their offense.

    • hockey7515 - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      Lunqvist has been the MVP of the Rangers by far for the last couple of seasons. If he does leave it will be a lot worse than your making it out to be.

      • nyrnashty - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:57 PM

        It’s not a big deal because he’s going to resign! It’s NY and there’s no replacement in the NHL that needs a goalie. He’s not going to a town that’s not NY or LA sorry! He’s also been the backbone of our team because of the D first style that Torts chose to play while he was here. AV will not play that style allowing Lundqvist to not have to win every single game by himself. Torts just wanted Lundqvist to win every game and the rest of the players to block shots with their faces all game. This style can’t win a cup check Buffalo when they had Hasek. Lundqvist will get any contract he wants even if that means cutting other players loose. We have other good young players that can fill their roles.

    • dmac1103 - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:59 PM

      Looking at the Rangers cap situation for next year money is a big issue, the only have 6 players signed and those 6 players take up almost 1/2 of the cap space. I am almost positive that the is not going to go up next year so it is going to be very difficult. They will have to decide if they should keep Lundqvist or keep other players like Callahan, Brassard, Krieder, Del Zotto & Girardi. It comes down to what they have in the system to replace these guys or if they want to risk what goalies are going to be available to replace Lundqvist and remain a upper playoff team. Let us not forget that some of their top prospects are only signed through next year as well.

      • nyrnashty - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:58 PM

        Lundqvist or keep other players like Callahan, Brassard, Krieder, Del Zotto & Girardi? LOL!

  7. redridershoottheireyeout - Aug 27, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    he’s not going anywhere, if he does that would be Sather’s ticket out of town though!

  8. multiplemiggs - Aug 27, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    it would be effing hysterical

  9. idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Aug 27, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    It’s going to come down to what’s more important to him, money or a Stanley Cup.

    If he wants a Cup, he’ll be a free agent.

  10. bcisleman - Aug 27, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    No doubt the Rangers will pay him as much or more than he’d get elsewhere. Question is whether he’ll want to stay and risk not getting his name on the Cup.

  11. banger60 - Aug 27, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    That’s not even funny!!!!

  12. rockthered1286 - Aug 27, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Assume Henrik takes the Rangers to task for a bidding war and ups his value higher than they imagined, yet still stays in NY. What of the other young talents awaiting contracts next season? Do they risk losing up an coming players due to cap restrictions? Do they pull some trades to get younger talent locked up longer? There are plenty of angles to this other than simply “he will sign and everything will be perfect in NY.”

  13. kane987245 - Aug 27, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    Well Praise left mostly due to family in the sense of locking up his career with them and SENS have stated they could have treated the situation better with Allfy. All i will say is if King Henry wanted to see what the market holds for him, the NYR better match ANYTHING that is thrown at him. If they do not, he is gone. We won’t know what the situation will be for about a year from now so we shall see!

    • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 27, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      Yes but in both cases the front office of their respective teams overestimated the ease with which they would resign their longtime players. If Sather goes into negotiations believing that Lundqvist loves NYC so much that he’d never consider free agency (like Lamoriello and Murray did) then the chances go way up that his franchise goalie atleast tests the waters. The same thing happened with Ryan Suter in Nashville. With any prospective free agent, the closer you get to the end of the contract, the better the chance said player will leave for greener pastures. It’s a similar situation with Kessel and the Leafs. Sather needs to approach these negotiations as if his job and the fate of the franchise are on the line, because, well, they are.

  14. jacketsfan7 - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    No hell go to the New York islanders

  15. tru2joelu4eva - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    come play for coach roy!!!!!

    • tru2joelu4eva - Aug 27, 2013 at 10:21 PM

      did i mention that we have lots and lots of money?

      • hockey7515 - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:25 AM

        Lots of money or lots of cap space?

      • tru2joelu4eva - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:00 AM

        kroenke’s net worth is estimated at 4 billion.

  16. thejrod2006 - Aug 28, 2013 at 1:54 AM

    I’m not a Rangers fan, but I have a hard time believing he will leave. Rangers management knows what Lundqvist means to that team and, quite frankly, they’d be screwed without him.

    Which makes it all the more perplexing why there seems to be little sense of urgency on the Rangers part to get it done. If I were Hank and I were this close to UFA, I’d WANT to see what other teams are willing to offer, and I’d want to play on a team with more offensive talent so I don’t have to try to win every game 1-0 or 2-1. I suppose its possible that when you’re that close to FA, you want to test the market regardless. Money certainly isn’t an issue for the Rangers (and they’d find a way to manipulate the cap to make it work), so I’d probably stop screwing around if I were them and just hand him whatever it’s going to take.

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