Call to the Hall: New York Rangers

Welcome to LWOS Hockey’s summer series, Call to the Hall, where we take a look at the next great player from each NHL franchise to get called to the Hockey Hall of Fame. There are a few caveats, the player must be active, and must have played 300 games (or 150 for goaltenders) with the franchise.

Check out the previous Call to the Hall articles HERE.

Call to The Hall: New York Rangers

Being an original six team, there have been many players elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame that have donned the Rangers sweater, but it’s not too often that you’ll find a Hall of Famer that has only worn the blueshirt. That very well could be the case here, as the Rangers have one of the most dominant goaltenders of this era.

Henrik Lundqvist

Drafted 205th overall in the 2000 NHL entry draft, Lundqvist started off as a member of Frolunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League, where he would stay until the NHL lockout of 2004-05 was over. Lundqvist played his first NHL game against the team that would be a rival to his for years to come, the New Jersey Devils. The end result was an overtime loss, but he would get his first win a few days later, also against the Devils. He would finish his rookie season with 30 wins in 53 games, and was a nominee for the Vezina.

It didn’t take long for him to win over the fans. In just his second season, fans and teammates were calling him “King Henrik”. He would go on to win 37 games that season, and again in the next one, getting nominated for two more Vezina Trophies in the process. The King has been incredibly consistent throughout his career, as he is the first goaltender in NHL history to win at least 30 games in each of his first 7 seasons. He has won 30 or more games in every season of his career (minus the lockout year, where he was on pace to win approximately 40 games).

Lundqvist was named the Rangers MVP for seven straight seasons, from 2007-2013, and was named to the NHL All-Star game in 2009, 2011, and 2012. He was nominated for the Vezina again in 2012 and 2013, for a total of five nominations, and finally won the award in 2012. He was also nominated for the Hart and Ted Lindsay awards that same year.

In 620 games, all with the Rangers, Lundqvist has 339 wins, which is good for second most among active goaltenders (Roberto Luongo is first with 401 wins, although in 244 more games played). His 55 shutouts are again the second most among active goalies (behind Luongo’s 68), and Lundqvist is also the record holder for most saves in the shootout, with 245. As expected, Lundqvist has broken a number of Rangers records, including most wins, shutouts, playoff wins, and playoff shutouts. He still trails Mike Richter for games played, but barring injuries, he will surely break that record this upcoming season.

Lundqvist has also enjoyed international success as well, having won the Gold Medal for Sweden during the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, and then winning the Silver Medal in the 2014 Games in Sochi. He is also the record holder for the longest shutout streak in Winter Olympic Games, going 172 minutes and 34 seconds without allowing a goal.

Despite all of his accomplishments, critics will always point to the one thing he has yet to win, the Stanley Cup. However, it’s unfair to fault him for that, since he’s the main reason the Rangers are competitive in the first place. He’s lead his team to the playoffs in all but one season (when the Rangers missed the playoffs by a single point in 2010), which has lead to him appearing in more playoff games than any other active netminder.

His 54 playoff victories puts him ahead of any other active goalie, although so does his 56 playoff losses. His 9 playoff shutouts is tied for most with Jonathan Quick, and his playoff SV% and GAA improves in the playoffs from the regular season (.921 to .923 SV% and 2.26 to 2.22 GAA). He also has an incredible six straight Game Seven victories, which was just ended last spring to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He gives his team a strong chance to win every game. After achieving a President’s Trophy, two trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, and one trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, all within the last four years, the New York Rangers are enjoying as much success as possible without winning the Cup. If the team can remain competitive in the coming years, there’s every reason to believe that the King will get his ring one day.

Lundqvist has built himself quite the resume over the years, and being 33 years of age, he still has plenty to give. If he can continue winning over 30 games per season, he could be in line to crack the 500 wins threshold. King Henrik is one of, if not the most dominant goaltender of his era, and is a very worthy candidate to get a Call to the Hall.

 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 22:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers tends net against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Three of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on April 22, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Rangers defeated the Flyers 4-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


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