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Lundqvist doesn't know if he'll play entire career with Rangers: report

Goalie has two years remaining on contract, will play for Sweden in Worlds

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

Henrik Lundqvist reiterated his desire to finish his career as a member of the New York Rangers, but told Expressen, a newspaper in Sweden, on Monday he isn't sure if that will happen.

"I don't know if I'll stay with the Rangers my entire career," said the 37-year-old goalie, who has two seasons remaining on a seven-year contract he signed Dec. 4, 2013. "I have two years left on my deal and it has always been my goal to stay with the Rangers, but once you get up there in age you never know. I know what I want, but if the club has other ideas I know I'll have to listen. You can't just do your own thing.

"Sometimes the dream might not work out in the end ... we'll see what happens. Right now all my focus is on the upcoming World Championships."

Lundqvist was named to Sweden's roster for the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia that begins Friday and runs through May 26. He finished his 14th NHL season 18-23-10 with a 3.07 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in 52 games. The GAA was Lundqvist's highest and win total and save percentage his lowest since entering the NHL in 2005. He is an 11-time 30-game winner, won the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12 and helped the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14, when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

Video: OTT@NYR: Lundqvist slides over to deny Duclair

But the Rangers missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season after going 32-36-14 and finishing 20 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. New York has been rebuilding since announcing its intentions to do so in a letter sent to fans Feb. 8, 2018 and have since traded a number of veterans while giving long looks to its younger players.

Lundqvist went 3-11-3 with a 3.18 GAA and .904 save percentage in 17 games after playing in the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game. Alexandar Georgiev, Lundqvist's 23-year-old rookie backup, started 10 of the Rangers' final 19 games, going 4-3-3 with a 2.35 GAA and .935 save percentage; in that same span Lundqvist went 1-7-1 with a 3.23 GAA and .906 save percentage in nine starts.

Georgiev, in his first full NHL season, went 14-13-4 with a 2.91 GAA and .914 save percentage in 33 games (30 starts). The Rangers also agreed to terms with goalie Igor Shesterkin, a fourth-round pick (No. 118) in the 2014 NHL Draft, on an entry-level contract May 3 after the 23-year-old went 24-4-0 with a 1.11 GAA, .953 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 28 games with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.

"The season started good," Lundqvist said. "I came in and had a lot of energy. I haven't felt as good in years, physically, mentally and in terms of technique. I was incredibly pleased with my first month of the season. After that it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. We lost a lot and it really took its toll on me mentally. Very much a challenge. I've always played to win and every year with the Rangers I've felt like we've had a shot at winning the Cup. But not this season. It was a very strange situation to be in."

Video: NYR@MIN: Lundqvist extends arm for fantastic stop

Lundqvist, selected by the Rangers in the seventh round (No. 205) of the 2000 NHL Draft, made his NHL debut with New York on Oct. 8, 2005. He is 449-298-93 in 857 games. He is New York's all-time leader among goalies in games played, wins and shutouts (63), and sixth on the NHL all-time wins list.

He repeatedly has expressed his desire to stay with the Rangers during the rebuild, which saw New York trade forwards Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, and defenseman Adam McQuaid, prior to the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline. The Rangers went 4-8-2 in their final 14 games, including a 1-6-1 stretch from March 11-27.

Lundqvist was too emotional to speak one day after Zuccarello, his close friend, was sent to the Dallas Stars.

"As we were starting to trade some of his friends again and the season with how it was unfolding, I think it was a lot for him mentally to go through that again and it was difficult and showed in his play," Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said after the season. "But when I think of his season, I think of how good he was at the beginning of the year and it didn't go well for our team from the deadline on, and he is no different than any player.

"The guy is still a great goalie, I'm convinced of that and I just think that it didn't go his way the last few games and I look for him to be great again."

Rangers coach David Quinn also expressed his faith in Lundqvist after the season.

"He's still one of the top goalies in the League," Quinn said. "And he's a part of our future."

Lundqvist will play in his sixth World Championship and represent Sweden in a major international tournament for the 14th time. He won a gold medal in 2017 after going 5-0-0 with a 1.31 GAA and .946 save percentage.

"I don't know how many more years I'll get to play hockey, how many opportunities I'll get to play in a World Championship," Lundqvist said. "It took me a while to digest what happened this season. But once I did, I felt strongly that the opportunity to compete for another World Championship was too good to pass up on."

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