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How Swede it’d be to bring Joel Lundqvist to New York

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Canada v Sweden - 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship - Gold Medal game Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Henrik Lundqvist and his twin brother Joel just led Team Sweden to victory at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. After a disappointing postseason with the Rangers, Henrik decided to join Joel, Team Sweden’s captain, at the tournament – marking the first time the brothers have played together in 12 years.

Having the opportunity to represent his country, especially with it appearing that the NHL will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, motivated Henrik to extend his season to the World Championship. Henrik added that this may be his last opportunity to play for Team Sweden, plus it gave him the opportunity to reunite with his brother on the ice. At breakup day for the New York Rangers, Henrik mentioned the chance to play with his brother as a reason for joining Team Sweden. Both Lundqvist brothers mentioned how the idea of playing together again inspired Henrik to join the tournament as well.

It seems that playing together brings out the best in both of them.

As this is likely his last time playing for Team Sweden, it may also be the last time that the Lundqvist brothers play together… unless the Rangers find a way to add Joel to their lineup.

Yes, Joel is 35-years-old and past his prime – something that should make every fan cringe; as the Rangers often pursue big name players that are way past their prime (Brad Richards, Dan Boyle, Marty St. Louis, Pavel Bure, Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne). However, Joel could be an effective acquisition for the Rangers despite his age.

Joel played with Frolunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League early in his professional hockey career, before joining the NHL. He was drafted 68th overall at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft (the same year Henrik was picked 205th overall by the Rangers) by the Dallas Stars. While with the Stars from 2006-2009, the two-way center played in 132 NHL games and earned 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists).

Dallas Stars v New Jersey Devils Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

For the 2009-2010 season, Joel returned to Sweden as Frolunda HC’s captain – where he won the Swedish Hockey League Championship in 2015-16. This season, Joel scored 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists) in 51 regular season games. He earned another 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 14 playoff games.

Additionally, with Frolunda HC, Joel has won in the Champions Hockey League the last two seasons. In the Champions Hockey League this year, Joel was named the Most Valuable Player, had the highest plus/minus, and a league-best 65.9 percent success rate at faceoffs.

While Joel clearly has a great hockey career in Sweden, he could consider leaving that for one reason: to hoist the Stanley Cup with Henrik.

General managers specifically look for experienced players that “know how to win.” Joel is certainly experienced in that – with his three SHL championships, two Champions Hockey League titles, and three World Championship Gold Medals. Also, he has leadership experience as the captain of Frolunda HC and Team Sweden.

As he did for Team Sweden, Joel could fill the role of a fourth-line center for the Rangers. Granted Grabner is not drafted by the Golden Knights, a fourth line of Grabner – Lundqvist – Fast could be dangerous on both sides of the ice. It would also give Lindberg the opportunity (again, granted he is not taken in the expansion draft) to move up to the third line, which he has certainly earned.

Joel could play center behind Lindberg, Zibanejad, and Stepan – allowing Hayes to return to his natural position of right wing. With Hayes on the wing, the Rangers could move him up in the lineup to a more offensive role – which he shined in during his brief appearance at the 2017 World Championship with Team USA – than he had this season while on a line with either Grabner and Miller or Grabner and Fast.

If Lindberg is taken at the expansion draft, Joel could fill the void on the fourth line at center. Then Hayes could maintain his role as the team’s third line center, but with more offensive linemates.

Even if his statistics are not overwhelming, his two-way play is noteworthy. Most importantly, bringing Joel to New York could revitalize Henrik – the Rangers most crucial player.

The Rangers wasted the prime of Lundqvist’s career and have not built the team around him, as they should have throughout his career to best facilitate their success. Rather, they have consistently deployed flawed teams that Henrik has had to drag into the postseason.

It’s in the club’s best interest to make the face of the franchise happy.

Winning a gold medal gave Henrik another taste of success. Since that championship was a tangible way to quantify his success, it should boost his confidence and motivate him even more to complete his ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup. Bringing Joel to the Rangers, who Henrik was so excited to play with on Team Sweden, would not only show Henrik just how much the Rangers truly appreciate him, but also inspire him after a disheartening elimination in the semifinals this year.

The Rangers front office has certainly tried more outlandish ideas than this. And with Tanner Glass becoming an unrestricted free agent, some more competition on the fourth line couldn’t hurt, right?