NHL Rumors: The waive, trade, buyout scenario for the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist

Washington Capitals rumors on Lundqvist (Getty Images/NHLI)

Henrik Lundqvist is a legend. Unfortunately, it appears like many aging stars his time as one of the best in the game has passed. Sadly, like many other greats before him (Mike Gartner immediately comes to mind), he may never win the Stanley Cup.

We have chronicled what may happen with Lundqvist’s future dating all the way back to “the letter”. We’ve written about the possibility of his retirement and now buyout. While a buyout is likely what will happen with Hank, the Rangers need the full $8.5 million in cap space. Here’s how they may be trying to get it.

A waive, a trade, and then the buyout. Let us explain.

Why the Rangers would do this

Henrik has a No Move Clause so a trade cannot happen without Lundqvist waiving a perk he’s earned. However this is the scenario that works out for all parties involved.

What if the Rangers trade Henrik Lundqvist and the 22nd overall pick this year to the Ottawa Senators as a cap dump? The trade is made with the stipulation they will then buy out his contract.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Here’s why the Rangers would do this. They would free up $8.5 million in cap space immediately rather than waiting for 2021. The price is heavy by giving up that second 1st round pick as an incentive. The cap space can be used to retain our RFAs without sacrificing the cap space cushion for performance bonuses this upcoming season.

Breaking it down for the Rangers: They trade Lundqvist with no salary retained and 22nd overall pick in 2020, in exchange for a 7th round pick to get the full cap relief of $8.5 million.

Why the Senators would do this

The Senators are in a full-on rebuild mode. It really is the perfect move for them. Adding a 1st round pick in a deep draft for taking on a contract to be bought out is good asset management for a team in a rebuild.

The 1st round pick is basically payment for the money spent on that buy out. On top of that, the buyout comes with a $5.5 million cap hit, while only paying $3 million in actual cash (assuming the signing bonus of 1 million has been paid by the Rangers). For a budget team, this is a great way to reach the cap floor. In addition, it gives the Senators four first round picks to use in trades to improve the team (3, 5, 22 from NYR, and 28)

Breaking it down for the Senators: They give up a 7th round pick and spend just $3 million to buyout Lundqvist and gain $5.5 million in cap space to reach the floor.

Why does Henrik Lundqvist do this?

nhl rumors lundqvist
Will Henrik Lundqvist retire? (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

The future Hall of Fame goalie has had a great career in New York. If the Rangers are intending to move on from him a year early by buying him out, it does not matter which team pays for it. Lundqvist can do the team a favor without it affecting his situation. All he has to do is waive his clause and he will receive all the money owed to him and be free to sign anywhere on October 9th.

There is precedent for these moves

Last year we saw a similar situation when the Toronto Maple Leafs traded a 1st round pick to Carolina to take on the Patrick Marleau contract which was subsequently bought out by the Hurricanes. This resulted in the Leafs getting full cap relief at the cost of a 1st round pick. Carolina acquired a 1st rounder simply for taking on a contract, a situation they were familiar with. After all, it’s how they acquired their top-6 winger Teuvo Teräväinen.

Henrik’s Legacy untarnished

Henrik Lundqvist will be as much an Ottawa Senator as Mark Messier was a San Jose Shark. Before the salary cap era, the NHL had something called compensatory picks. Players lost in free agency would result in draft pick compensation.

The Rangers and Sharks used this to their advantage, trading the captain to the Cali team for a 4th round pick (which was subsequently used to draft Ryan Callahan). When Messier then signed with the Rangers, the Sharks were awarded a 3rd round pick as compensation.

This loophole was closed in 2005 but it illustrates a scenario to compare this to in terms of how much (or how little) it affects a player’s legacy. For this example I used the Ottawa Senators, but the Detroit Red Wings are also a viable candidate for this scenario.

The only question is a big one. Are the Rangers willing to part ways with a 1st round pick to free up the full $8.5 million in cap space? We at Forever Blueshirts believe the answer is yes. No one said draft capital was only used to acquire players, sometimes they are used to keep the one you have.

Editor’s Note: I was happy to work with Steven Voogel on this awesome article. The main premise was all his and featured on Forever Blueshirts. – Anthony Scultore

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