Buyout ends Lundqvist’s tenure with Rangers

The New York Rangers have bought out the final year of star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist‘s contract to end his 15-year career with the team.

“Few players have been as important to the Rangers franchise as Henrik Lundqvist, and we are incredibly grateful for all he has done for our organization,” Rangers owner James Dolan said in a statement. “Over his 15-year tenure, he not only established himself as one of the best goaltenders to ever play the game, he has also been one of hockey’s fiercest competitors and most effective ambassadors. He will always be a part of the Rangers family.”

Lundqvist, 38, will become an unrestricted free agent, joining a crowded market of veteran goaltenders when the signing period begins Oct. 9.

Lundqvist thanked the Rangers in a series of tweets, saying “Representing this organization has been the biggest source of pride and joy in my life.”

Lundqvist carried an $8.5 million salary-cap hit and was scheduled to make $4.5 million with a $1 million signing bonus on the final year of a seven-year, $59.5 million contract he signed in December 2013. That contract carried a full no-movement clause, so a buyout was the most expedient way of moving on from Lundqvist.

The Rangers went with three goaltenders during the 2019-20 season, as Lundqvist shared time with Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin, both 24 years old. Georgiev played 34 games, Lundqvist played 30, and Shesterkin, a rookie sensation, went 10-2 in 12 contests.

In the Rangers’ 3-0 series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualification round of the 2020 playoffs, Lundqvist started two games and Shesterkin one.

Lundqvist has been the face of the franchise — and one of the most popular athletes in New York City — for over a decade. He was drafted in the seventh round in 2000 by the team and made the jump from Sweden to the NHL in 2005-06.

He has a record of 459-310-96 in 887 games, with a save percentage of .918, a 2.43 goals-against average and 64 shutouts, and he is the franchise leader in all those categories.

Lundqvist is a five-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, winning the award for the NHL’s top goaltender in 2011-12.

According to Cap Friendly, the Rangers will have a cap hit of $5.5 million in 2020-21, a $3 million cap savings this season and $1.5 million in 2021-22 for buying out Lundqvist.

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