With Martin Biron retiring and Henrik Lundqvist getting injured recently, there’s a question that’s been far in the back of all Rangers fans’ minds that need to start coming to the surface now; What do we do when Lundqvist is gone?
For years now, the Rangers haven’t had to worry because they were lucky to not only have one of the best goalies in the game, but because Lundqvist was drafted by the Rangers and grew to become who he is while in the Rangers organization.
But, unfortunately, it can’t be forever and the conversation of finding him a successor has to be addressed.
So in comes 26-year-old Cam Talbot, the now-successor to Martin Biron. Talbot is 2-1 on the season, losing his first NHL game to the Philadelphia Flyers and then winning in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings and then in regular time against the New York Islanders. In all three games where he has gotten to start, he’s played very well. So well in fact, that I’ve heard one particular question several times.
Should the Rangers trade Lundqvist and allow Talbot to grow?
If you are one of the people who asked this question, or even gave this question a thought, stop. Stop right now, cool your jets and relax.
There is a lot to say about the idea of giving Lundqvist away. But let’s begin by talking about Talbot.
Has Talbot been playing great? Yes.
There’s no denying that Talbot has proven himself to have the talent and skill to be a capable back-up and maybe a starter down the line. But we’re basing our hopes and plans for the future on a player who has played only three games. That’s nowhere near enough time to make any claim.
When you look at Talbot’s numbers from his time in the AHL, they’re good, but they’re nothing to make you jump out of your seat and proclaim he’s the second coming. He played 55 games last season and had a 2.63 GAA and lost 28 games while winning 25.
To sum up, he’s a good goalie who exceeded expectations in his first three games. Not necessarily a new phenomenon by any means. And that isn’t even what bothers me the most about the talks of moving Talbot to the starter position earlier rather than later.
It is premature to doubt and cast Lundqvist aside when we are hardly a month into the season.
Is it worrying to see the Rangers not performing up to what the preseason expectations were? Yes. Is it troubling? Yes. Is it scary that Lundqvist’s start to the season has been lackluster compared to his other seasons of play? Eh.
I hate to let emotions rule over any debate, but it may not even be that. Lundqvist is, by far, the best player the Rangers have and is one of the best players in the world. It’s normal that a player is going to have a slow start to the season at some point in their career.
While he has had an uncharacteristic start, no Ranger fan should forget what he has done for the team. He has a 2.25 GAA over his entire NHL career, has won 30 or more games every season he has played minus last season when there was a lockout (and he got close—he was five games off) and has been nominated for the Vezina five times and won the award in 2012.
Lundqvist was the one who made the Rangers relevant again after years of being the laughing stock of the NHL. Lundqvist is the one who has been voted the Rangers’ MVP seven years running. Lundqvist is the Rangers’ best chance at winning a Stanley Cup. Losing him would be one of the worst things that could happen to the team. Keep the king in his kingdom.