The New York Rangers Need to Have an Appropriate Exit Strategy for Henrik Lundqvist

Jim Bay
Feb 14, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) makes a save in net against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In a bit of a surprise move, the New York Rangers started Alexandar Georgiev in net for the second night in a row.  Georgiev started Thursday night in Minnesota and was given the start on the back-to-back against Columbus. The conventional wisdom would be to start Henrik Lundqvist and give the young goaltender the night off, but that did not happen. The thinking was that since Georgiev played well against the Wild, and Lundqvist had not played much lately, the Rangers would go with the youngster. Igor Shesterkin had been named as the number one starter but sat out for the second night in a row with an ankle injury. The end result was good as the Rangers defeated the Blue Jackets 3-1, giving them their third straight road victory.  However, a concern will be how the Blueshirts treat their demoted veteran netminder Henrik Lundqvist for the rest of the time that he remains in New York.

Lundqvist deserves a respectful sendoff from the New York Rangers

It is not like Lundqvist has been playing poorly this year. While the 37-year-old veteran may not be as good as he used to be, he is still playing at a solid level. But for the past month-and-a-half, the Rangers have been using a three goalie rotation, with Lundqvist being the odd-man-out. Since Shesterkin’s recall from the AHL in early January, Lundqvist has started just three games for the Rangers, the fewest among the three goalies on the team, with Shesterkin getting the bulk of the playing time.  So, the simple answer is to trade someone, right? Well, that is not as easy as it seems. There had been speculation that the Rangers might trade Georgiev, but a rebuilding team dealing away a 23-year-old goalie doesn’t make much sense unless you are getting a nice haul in return. That has not happened so far. Lundqvist could be traded, but he has a no-movement clause and has stated that he wants to finish his career in New York. He does deserve that consideration but it might mean that he has to be the third goaltender for at least the rest of the season. It could also create a situation where instead of a trade, the Rangers and Lundqvist agree to a buyout of the final year of his contract, making a clean break and allowing Lundqvist to become a free agent. Whatever happens, the Rangers need to finalize things with the class and dignity that Henrik Lundqvist has given to New York for the past 15 years.