Well I figured there’s no better place to start then with the anchor of the team, Henrik Lundqvist.
Weight: 195 lbs
Drafted: 7th round (205th overall) 2000 by the New York Rangers
NHL experience: Currently in his 6th NHL season
Before the NHL:
Before the year 2005, the first NHL season post-lockout when Henrik was flown over from Sweden in order to back up Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist was a star back home in Sweden where he played for Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League (SEL). Lundqvist had experienced some time in the 5 years leading up to the 04-05 season playing for Frolunda in the SEL, but Henrik’s best season came that lockout year, when many NHL players decided to lace them up for teams in the SEL. That year Henrik led his team to the SEL championship which they eventually won by posting a 1.79 GAA with a .936 save percentage in 44 regular season games. He followed that up with a 1.05 GAA and a .962 save percentage in 14 playoff games that year. That year Henrik was awarded the SEL’s MVP award and some new found confidence to take with him to the NHL.
Henrik has been the starting goalie for the Swedish team in the past two Olympic games. In the 2006 winter Olympics Henrik was able to carry team Sweden to the gold medal. In the gold medal game Henrik went toe – to – toe with NHL golatender Antero Niittymaki and team Finland. Henrik eventually made a game-saving save in the third period to help team Sweden capture the gold medal. This past years Olympics went quite differently for Henrik. Even though he posted better statistics through the three games he was able to play, team Sweden did not fare as well and did not even medal. A disappointment for everyone involved as they had higher goals mapped out.
Henrik does however hold the record for longest streak without allowing a goal in Olympic play at 172 consecutive minutes.
After joining the New York Rangers in 2005-2006 Lundqvist did not take long to introduce himself to the NHL. As a rookie Henrik would start 50 games for the Rangers (play in 53 of them) while helping Jaromir Jagr carry a team that was projected to finish 30th in the NHL that season to the playoffs. Henrik has definitely not looked back ever since.
Lundqvist is the only goalie in NHL history to post 30 win seasons in each of his first 5 seasons in the NHL, a record Henrik seems to break every season. Not to mention the past four years Henrik has not finished with less then 35 wins in a season while starting more games then any other goalie in the NHL in that span.
Henrik’s worst statistics for a season are a 2.43 GAA (08-09) and a .912 save percentage (07-08…coincidentally, this was also the season Henrik recorded 10 shutouts) something many goaltenders in the NHL wish they could attest to. For comparison, last seasons Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller has a career 2.57 GAA and .914 save percentage.
Lundqvist was nominated for the Vezina Trophy three consecutive times from the 2005-2006 season to the 2007-2008 season. Although this is a trophy Henrik has never been able to obtain, the sky is the limit for this top 5 and arguably top 3 goalie in the NHL. Although I bet if you ask him, there’s another piece of hardware that Henrik would love to obtain, one Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Outlook 2010-2011 and Beyond:
Like I said before the sky is really the limit for this goaltender. This season however he has been faced with some early season troubles. Having a tough time getting into his mid-season groove with the inconsistent schedule (the Rangers have played only 4 times since October 9th), Henrik will also face the challenge of being the sole superstar on the team as Marian Gaborik has gone down with an early season injury. In addition to Gaborik’s injury is Chris Drury’s, and Vinny Prospal’s, leaving Henrik as one of the lone veterans on a very young Rangers team that includes a very young defense.
I think every year that Henrik is a starter in this league, and hopefully for the Rangers, there’s no question that he’s got at least 30 wins under his belt. He’s an incredibly competitive player and he now knows too well how it feels to not make the post-season after the Rangers were eliminated in a shootout in the last game of the season. This, I’m sure, is a feeling Lundqvist never wants to feel again.
Beyond that Henrik is currently entering the prime of his career (usually ages 29-32 for a goalie) and if there’s ever one constant on the Rangers or for the fans in that time period is that we never have to worry about our goaltending. He’s a proven winner with a championship and MVP in the SEL, as well as a gold medal in the Olympics, and there is no denying that this success will transfer over to the NHL.
About the Author
Written by Adam Gavriel