It’s the end of an era in New York.
The Rangers on Wednesday announced the buyout of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has spent the entirety of his sterling 15-year career with the Blueshirts. He will leave as the team’s most accomplished goalie ever, accumulating a 459-310-96 record, 23,509 saves, a 2.43 goals against average and a 91.8 save percentage.
The buyout of the final season of his seven-year, $59.5 million contract will free up $3 million in cap space for the Rangers in of 2020-21, per CapFriendly.com. It will create $1.5 million in dead cap hit the following season. With the move, the Rangers will have $25.7 million in cap space — fourth-most in the NHL — per Spotrac.
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It’s uncertain whether Lundqvist will retire or choose to sift through the free agency market. The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner almost certainly will have suitors, but issues of team fit and cap space will be factors in whether he chooses to retire.
Should Lunqvist retire, he would do so as the sixth-winningest goalie in NHL history. That aptitude helped the Rangers reach the postseason in 11 of Lundqvist’s 15 seasons in New York, including two trips to the Eastern Conference finals and one to the Stanley Cup Final. The only thing missing was the Stanley Cup itself; the closest Lundqvist came to hoisting it came in 2014, when his Rangers lost to the Kings 4-1 in the Stanley Cup Final.
That certainly doesn’t detract from Lundqvist’s storied career, however. He leaves New York with multiple NHL and Rangers records. He is the only goaltender in NHL history to record 30 wins in each of his first seven seasons and the first with 11 straight 20-win seasons. He is also the fastest goaltender to record 400 wins in NHL history and has the most combined regular season and playoff saves.
And that is only a fraction of the accolades Lundqvist has earned as one of the best to ever play the position for the Rangers.