John Davidson didn’t wait long to begin one of the most important conversations facing the Rangers this offseason.
When they got off the plane from Toronto last week, after getting swept by the Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup qualifiers, Davidson got together with Henrik Lundqvist for what the team president called a “personal discussion,” as the goalie’s future on Broadway hangs in the balance.
“We will continue having our discussions to figure out what avenues we’re going to take as we move forward,” Davidson said Tuesday on a Zoom call. “We’ll handle things the right way and just move forward with this.”
Lundqvist, the longtime franchise cornerstone, was dethroned in the middle of this season by Igor Shesterkin, as the 24-year-old rookie was called up from the AHL and lived up to the hype. The Rangers have another 24-year-old, Alex Georgiev, who has proven he can be an NHL goalie and is set to be a restricted free agent.
The 38-year-old Lundqvist, meanwhile, has one year left on his contract with an $8.5 million cap hit. That number looms even bigger with the flat cap next season because of the pandemic’s financial strain, setting up a difficult and perhaps unpleasant decision for the Rangers.
Lundqvist could be bought out, which would save them $3 million on the cap but add $5.5 million in dead space next season and $1.5 million in dead space the following year. If he chooses to retire, the Rangers would free up $8.5 million in cap space next year.
Whatever path the Rangers take, general manager Jeff Gorton confirmed it would not be one that involved carrying three goalies, which they did for part of this season.
“We won’t go into next year with three goalies,” Gorton said. “We’ll take the time you need to figure this part out and what’s next for all three guys. But our plan is to have two goalies when the season starts.”
Davidson said he expected to keep the lines of communication open with Lundqvist and his agent.
“All I’m saying is that when you have discussions with a future Hall of Famer … Hank is a great person who wants to be in the know,” Davidson said. “We’re all getting together trying to figure out what we’re going to do as a group, and just do the right thing.
“Treat people well and see where it goes.”
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