Throughout this entire 2013-14 NHL season for the New York Rangers, former Vezina Trophy award winning goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been outplayed by rookie backup goaltender Cam Talbot. Not only is Talbot giving up less goals per game than Lundqvist–Talbot with a 1.60 GAA and Lundqvist with a 2.77–the Rangers seem to be playing a better brand of hockey in front of Talbot.
However, with all of that being said, Lundqvist’s starting job is not and will not ever be in jeopardy, unlike rumors would seem to have it with all of these goalie controversy talks I have been hearing and reading about lately.
For one, his contract was recently extended to seven more years and worth just short of $60 million. That alone should be a reason why Lundqvist’s starting job should not be in jeopardy. What kind of message does that send if you give Lundqvist a long-term contract and less than a month into that extension, you give Talbot the starting job? Yes, I know Lundqvist is struggling this year, but he has to find a way to work through it and keep playing. Making a goaltending controversy out of this and announcing Talbot the starter could only do more harm to Lundqvist’s psyche.
Another reason why there is no goalie controversy is the fact that if you name Talbot the new starter and goalie for the future, then you are forced to trade Lundqvist because why would you pay a backup goaltender close to $60 million over seven years. Unfortunately, since that contract is so huge, and since Rangers’ GM Glen Sather values Lundqvist very highly, no team would accept Lundqvist in a trade because either they could not afford him or would have to give up way too much in return.
If anything, the better Talbot plays, the more likely the Rangers might consider trading him for a few pieces to add scoring and depth at both the forward and defensive positions. So whether you would like to believe it or not, it would just make zero sense for the Rangers to have some type of goalie controversy given Lundqvist’s new contract. However, I never put anything past Sather.