It is quite obvious that New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has evolved into one of the league’s most elite role-models. He has been the face of the franchise for quite some time, and we can expect that to continue if general manager Glen Sather can work out a contract extension for him by the end of next summer.
At the beginning of Lundqvist’s rookie season in 2005-06, he got a crack at his first professional start with primary goaltender Kevin Weekes injured. His debut came on October 8, 2005 against the New Jersey Devils. He stopped 24 of 27 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss. A few days later on the 13th, he acquired his first career win against those same Devils. Then on the 17th, he posted his first career shutout in a game against the Florida Panthers. By doing this, Lundqvist became the first rookie goaltender in Rangers history to record a shutout since John Vanbiesbrouck did it back in January of 1985. That season, he broke the record for rookie goaltender wins with 30 which was previously held by Jim Henry and Johnny Bower 29. Lundqvist was among the league leaders in several categories: fifth in goals against average (2.24), fourth in save percentage (.922), 11th in wins (30), and tied for 16th in shutouts with two. After a poor playoff performance in a series loss to the Devils, he was still nominated for the Vezina trophy, but not the Calder. He was also named to the NHL All-Rookie team which included the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Brad Boyes, Dion Phaneuf and Andrej Meszaros.
Before finally winning the Vezina in 2012, he was nominated in each of his first three seasons, and remains the only goaltender in NHL history to record 30 wins in each of his first seven seasons. Because of his dominating play during his rookie season, the New York media and Rangers fans gave him the nickname “King Henrik.” During the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, he led the Swedish to their second gold medal.
Lundqvist gives his team a chance to win night in and night out. He brings a high-quality work ethic and is extremely competitive and wants to win. However, he is still seeking out his first Stanley Cup victory, which could maybe come in 2013-14.
So, now I pose a question to you. How many wins will he rack up this season? In my opinion, I think he will hit the 40 mark in this campaign. He has the skill and the defense around him to pull it off. Vote down in the poll below and make your voice heard!