It sounded a little something like, “And, with the 205th pick, in the 2000 NHL entry draft, the New York Rangers select Swedish goaltender Henrik Lindqvist.” Let that sink in, 205th overall.
There were plenty of players drafted in 2000 before Henrik Lundqvist, which aren’t in the league anymore. Let’s start with the first overall pick, Rick DiPietro, drafted by the New York Islanders, or 44th overall, another goaltender, unrestricted free agent Ilya Bryzgalov.
NHL teams are lucky to get a star draft pick in the third round. Once in a blue moon, they will get a late round gem that could become the star of your franchise. For example, Dominik Hašek, a 199th overall pick in 1983 by the Blackhawks. That’s the same Hašek that was a six-time Vezina Trophy winner, six-time NHL All-Star, and two-time Stanley Cup Winner.
For Lundqvist, again let’s not forget, 205th overall in 2000, has been nothing less than spectacular for the New York Rangers. Lundqvist made his NHL debut on October 8, 2005, a 3-2 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. Despite the loss; he stopped 24 of 27 shots. Shortly after his debut, he recorded his first NHL win vs. the same Devils team.
Nov 12, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the second period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
The 2015-16 season was a struggle for the Rangers and Lundqvist. More importantly the Rangers defense. Lundqvist suffered his second worst GAA in his career at 2.2 and his second worst GAA in the playoffs since his rookie season at 4.39. Yet, he still had a save percentage of .920. Considering this, Lundqvist still hit 30+ wins for the 10th time in his 11-year career. The one time he didn’t hit 30+, was the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13.
However, there will be critics that make noise over every weak goal. Now critics have a simple solution to get their opinions out there, social media, an athlete’s worst nightmare.
There is a saying, the goaltender in only as good as the team playing in front of him. Yes, Lundqvist lets in some weak goals. For example, a50-foot shot by William Karlsson on Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets eluded Lundqvist. Lundqvist received the majority of the blame for the goal, but more important, was the play that led to the goal. Instead of chipping the puck up the boards J.T. Miller tried going up the middle, and his pass was intercepted and found the back of the net.
Put Lundqvist on any other team, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston or even the Sharks and they would be cup contending teams each and every year.
In the last 11 years, there have been various amounts of games every season where Lundqvist has stolen games for the Rangers. The one that sticks out the most happened back in October of 2011. The Rangers were in Vancouver to face the Canucks. All in all, the Rangers had just nine shots through two periods. Despite that, New York won 4-0, with Lundqvist stopping 40 shots. With any other netminder, the Rangers would have been blown out of the arena.