With young stars taking the ice the past few years, a drastic but rapid rebuild is taking shape at Madison Square Garden. At 38 years old, it’s finally time for Hank and the Rangers to move on, leaving the net in the safe hands of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.
Lundqvist was selected in the late rounds of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, making his Rangers debut five years later against the Devils and earning his first win in his MSG debut. Ludqvist quickly earned the nickname “The King,” establishing himself as a top goalie in his rookie season.
After winning the Vezina Trophy in 2012, Ludqvist helped turn an already strong Rangers team into a contender. In 2014, New York made their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since the magical 1994 season 20 years prior.
Unfortunately for Ludqvist and the Rangers, the path to the cup ran through Los Angeles, as the Blueshirts fell to the Kings in six games.
The Rangers made the Eastern Conference Finals the next year as well, but this time were shut down by Tampa Bay, once again quelling the championship dreams for the strongest Rangers team in two decades.
The lack of a Stanley Cup still looms over Ludqvist’s fantastic career, never completing his dream of lifting the iconic trophy on the Broadway ice. However, the goalie isn’t done yet. The hunger to win is still there and just like Alex Ovechkin did two years ago, Ludqvist hopes to finally cap his Hall of Fame resume by capturing the elusive championship.
“I still love to compete. I still love the game and I still want to WIN!” declared Lundqvist in a tweet following the buyout. For Rangers fans, the feeling is mutual, wanting The King to lift the Stanley Cup wherever he lands in free agency.
There are a handful of landing spots for Ludqvist ahead of the 2021 season, including contending teams like the Colorado Avalanche and strong teams looking to turn the corner like the Vancouver Canucks.
Ludqvist has shown that despite his age, his production in net is still elite, and any team to pick him up will have a strong backup and great clubhouse personality.