It has been reported that the New York Rangers buyout the remainder of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract, according to multiple sources.
The first buyout window opened during the Stanley Cup Final, and the move will become official before this window closes. This is the second major move — the first being the trade of Marc Staal — of likely many offseason moves made by the Rangers with next season’s flat salary cap in mind.
Lundqvist’s buyout is the Rangers’ solution to their crowded goal crease, which was highlighted by three NHL goalies on the roster. Igor Shesterkin moved to North America for the 2019-20 season, and was promoted from the AHL mid-year putting pressure on the situation. When no goaltender was moved at the deadline — not Lundqvist, nor Alexandar Georgiev — it was clear that the makeup of their net would change this offseason.
This past season, Lundqvist played the least that he has in his entire NHL career, which includes a condensed 48-game season in 2012-13. He played in just 30 regular season games where he earned a .905 save percentage and saved 4.12 goals above expected in all situations according to Evolving-Hockey.com.
The 38-year-old goaltender had one year remaining on his seven year, $59.5 million contract signed in December 2013. At the time of the signing, his $8.5 million cap hit was worth 13.2 percent of the cap. His 2020-21 salary was set to be the lowest of the deal, at $5.5 million (composed of a $1 million signing bonus and $4.5 million in base salary, compared to the opening year of the deal’s $11 million salary that included an $8 million signing bonus).
The Rangers will save $3 million in cap with the buyout, but still have $5.5 million in dead space for the 2020-21 season, according to CapFriendly.com. The financial implications will be cut in half in 2021-22, at just $1.5 million in cap space taken up by the buyout.
The $5.5 million cap hit from Lundqvist’s buyout will coincide with the steepest year of Kevin Shattenkirk’s buyout ($6,083,333), plus $300,000 from Ryan Spooner, and $1,111,111 from Dan Girardi. All together, the Rangers will have just under $13 million in dead cap space from buyouts on the books next year, in what would have already been a challenging year given the flat $81.5 million salary cap. The 2021-22 salary cap will have over $4 million combined in dead space as well.
With Lundqvist’s buyout, the Rangers will move forward with a goaltending tandem of Igor Shesterkin (signed for one more year of his entry-level contract of $925,000) and Alexandar Georgiev, a pending restricted free agent.
With this buyout, Lundqvist’s 15-year career with the Rangers comes to an end. He first skated between the pipes in New York in 2005-06, making his debut on October 8, 2005 against the Devils, and soon became their starter and backbone. His last appearance in a Rangers’ sweater came on August 3, in Game 2 of the team’s qualifying series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Lundqvist was in the crease for 887 regular season games for the Rangers between 2005 and 2020, where he played over 51,816 minutes, made 23,509 saves and earned a .918 save percentage. Additionally, he started 130 postseason games, going 61-67 while making 3,567 saves in 7,935 minutes, earning 10 shutouts and a .921 save percentage.
We will keep you posted with what’s next for the future Hall of Fame goaltender, and have more content on his career in New York in the coming days and weeks.
Data via CapFriendly and Evolving-Hockey