Minnesota Wild winger, Mats Zuccarello has called out the New York Rangers on its recent treatment of star goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. In an interview with Norwegian daily newspaper, Verdens Gang, Zuccarello, stated his former club’s usage of the long-standing, franchise netminder, this season, has been “disrespectful”.
Henrik Lundqvist Disrespected by the New York Rangers
During the 2019-20 season, 38-year-old Lundqvist held a 10-12-3 record and a save percentage of .905. Although he began this season as the starter, the Rangers eventually ended up favoring young options instead. Lundqvist was demoted to the third-choice, behind Alexandar Georgiev and newly promoted, Igor Shesterkin.
The latter had been called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Ranger’s AHL affiliate, rewarding the Russian’s tremendous .935 save percentage and 1.90 GAA in 25 games he set in the AHL this year. Meanwhile, Georgiev had surpassed Lundqvist in performance after playing the backup role for a few years. This season would mark the first time Lundqvist had served as a healthy scratch ever through his over-850 game career.
Translated from Norwegian, Zuccarello had this to say regarding the situation: “It is absolutely appalling that he is being treated this way. Did anyone ever think that this was going to happen to Henrik Lundqvist? Nobody.”
Soon the End of an Era for Lundqvist
Lundqvist has one more year left on his seven-year deal, worth $8.5 million AAV. He will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 season. The Rangers recent demotion of their talismanic netminder may be a sign that they are trying to get Lundqvist to take an early retirement.
Lundqvist’s 30 games played this season is his fewest amount in a 15-year career with the Rangers. His .905 save percentage marks his worst season performance since 2001-02. This was back when he played in Sweden with Vastra Frolunda HC. It was only his second season as a pro, at the age of 19.
The New York Rangers traded Zuccarello last year to the Dallas Stars. In return, the Rangers received a second-round pick in the 2019 draft and a third-round pick in 2020. However, Zuccarello’s stay in Dallas was brief. He missed most of the stretch run due to injury and then scored 11 points in 13 playoff games. He left Dallas to test free agency soon after. He’d end up signing a five-year, $6 million-dollar deal with the Minnesota Wild on July 1st 2019.