On Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes completed a three-game sweep of the New York Rangers in the play-in round of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. With the victory, they’ll remain in the bubble and move on to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs while the Rangers will be packing their bags and heading home to the Big Apple.
The Hurricanes absolutely dominated all three games—which wasn’t too surprising considering how fairly mediocre the Rangers were dring the abbreviated regular season—and this goal from Sebastian Aho last night basically sums up the general state of the franchise.
— NHL (@NHL) August 5, 2020
The Hurricanes certainly look like a force to be reckoned with moving forward but the biggest question for many fans at the end of this series was the future of beloved Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The King is likely nearing the end of his career at the age of 38 but he still hasn’t been able to capture that elusive prize that all hockey players seek: Lord Stanley’s Cup.
As the hopes of the team he’s played for his entire career dwindled late in the third period of last night’s elimination game, the cameras turned to Lundqvist and revealed an expression of emptiness and sadness as he realized he was another year closer to retiring without a ring.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) August 5, 2020
Damn, that handsome son of a bitch can even make eternal despair look sexy.
Hank has achieved almost everything a goalie could hope to during his 15-year tenure in New York. He was drafted by the Rangers in 2000 and made his NHL debut five years later and it didn’t take long for him to take the league by storm.
He was nominated for the Vezina Trophy in each of his first three seasons before finally securing the prize in 2012. He led the Swedish Men’s Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics and his last trip to the Stanley Cup Finals came in 2014 when Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings crushed his hopes and dreams in double overtime.
Since then, the Rangers have been on a steady decline, with this season’s performance being their first slight improvement in a while. In recent years, a lot of people have said it’d be in Lundqvist’s best interest to head somewhere else if he wants his name etched on the Cup, but he’s made it clear in the past that he wants to retire a Ranger.
It might be time to reconsider.
This offseason will be very telling. Lundqvist has two years left on his contract with the Rangers before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the tender age of 40. I really don’t see this Rangers squad being a Stanley Cup contender anytime in the next two years and Lundqvist’s play isn’t what it used to be. Realistically, he won’t be a starter anywhere, but I could see him sliding into a backup role on a competitive team—specifically the Philadelphia Flyers.
I know it sounds like a cardinal sin to send Manhattan’s pride and joy to Philly, but hear me out. The Flyers are a dominant team and have really come into their own this season. Their roster is as strong as it’s been in a long time thanks to weapons like Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier leading the offense and young goaltender Carter Hart making waves as an upcoming star. The one thing Hart needs is a solid backup and Lundqvist could fit perfectly into this role.
As I said, Lundqvist isn’t the goalie he once was but he could thrive in a backup role playing 20-30 games behind Hart, and with the amount of experience he brings to the table, he could be a fantastic mentor for the rising talent. Good goaltending is one of the most important ingredients for playoff success and I think that’s Philly’s biggest flaw at the moment, as they’re screwed if something happens to their starter. It would take everyone some time to get used to seeing Henrik in Flyers orange, but I bet it’d really make his dazzling eyes pop.
I admit I still don’t fully understand the complexities of the NHL salary cap and player contracts, so I’m not sure how realistic this move would be considering both Henrik’s deal and the Flyers’ cap situation. But I’m not here to crunch numbers; I’m here to serve hot takes fresh out of the oven like a Digornio stuffed crust pepperoni pizza cooked to perfection.
I’ll end with this: I’m not a Rangers fan, but I still feel sorry for Henrik. He’s been one of the biggest superstars in the NHL for over a decade and seems destined for the Hall of Fame. I’m also not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet, but he’s handsome as hell. It’s only right that he should end his career Ray Bourque-style by raising the Stanley Cup over his head, and at this point, he’s earned the right to ask the Rangers to help him make that happen.