We have a lot to unpack here today, folks. We take a look back at the 2020 Stanley Cup, I give a quick update on the trades/trade rumors that have circulated the league over the first half of the week, and New York bids farewell to Henrik Lundqvist.
Stanley Cup Final
The Stanley Cup Final came to a conclusion Monday night, when the Tampa Bay Lightning secured their first Cup victory since 2004, with a 2-0 shutout over the Dallas Stars. Defenseman Victor Hedman took home the Conn Smythe Trophy. Hedman had 7 points on 1 goal and 6 assists throughout the series. It's always nice to see a defenseman win the Conn Smythe, it always seems like they have to work that much harder at it.
The Dallas Stars put up a valiant effort. Dallas came out of the gates swinging when they stole game one away from Tampa. The Lightning came back and took two games in a row, and then won game 4 in controversial fashion. Many people counted the Stars out when they went down 3 games to 1, but they surged back and took game 5 in overtime, forcing a game 6. It seemed like Dallas had life after all, but it was short lived. As they failed to show up in game 6, getting shutout by Andrei Vasilevskiy and friends. At least now Dallas knows how it feels to be on the losing end of a controversial call.
There is going to be a lot of Rangers news coming up, so get buckled in.
Marc Staal to the Detroit Red Wings
On September 26, the New York Rangers traded defenseman Marc Staal and a 2021 second-round draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for future considerations. This move doesn't seem like much to the naked eye, but to those who are aware of what Jeff Gorton and John Davidson are doing, it's clearly a cap space move. Staal is heading into the final year of his 6 year, $34,200,000 deal. New York had a cap space issue going into the offseason, and have 11 players on their roster who are about to hit restricted free-agency. But after the Staal trade and the recent Henrik Lundqvist buyout, New York has opened up cap space. Will we see Gorton and Davidson make a run at Alex Pietrangelo or Torey Krug in free agency?
Chicago Blackhawks Strike a Deal with Vegas
The Vegas Golden Knights sent forward Brandon Pirri to Chicago in exchange for Dylan Sikura. Not much of an impact move for either team. The straight swap is obviously to bolster depth on both rosters.
New York Rangers contact the Buffalo Sabres about Jack Eichel
At the beginning of the week, rumors came out that star center Jack Eichel might have requested a trade out of Buffalo. If you read my article from a few months ago that outlined the drama within the Sabres organization, or if you pay any attention to hockey whatsoever, you'd know by now that Eichel wanting out of Buffalo has been a possibility for a while. Not soon after, it was reported that the only team to seriously inquire about an Eichel trade was the New York Rangers. (First reported by Bob McKenzie of TSN)
The story was short lived, however, when Buffalo's front office made it clear that they are not currently shopping Eichel at the moment, and that Eichel has not actually requested a trade. Still, rumors of this caliber always have some validity behind them, and it's worth keeping an eye on, given the current conditions within the Sabres organization. If you're a Rangers fan like myself, you love this type of aggressive move coming from Gorton and Davidson. It shows that the Staal trade and the Lundqvist buyout won't go in vain, because the front office isn't looking to pocket the money gained, they're looking to spend it on top level talent.
But is this trade worth the number one pick in this year's upcoming draft? If the Rangers do manage to acquire a player of Eichel's talent, it will almost certainly come at that price. Every team in the league has their eye on Alexis Lafrenière, one of the most highly sought after prospects of the last 20 years. New York sits in a position of ultimate power. They could probably land any player in the league right now (with the exception of maybe two) as long as they use that pick as bait. But at the end of the day, I believe the Rangers will hold on to the pick, and Lafrenière will be in a Rangers sweater in 2020, even if it means having to forget about Eichel.
On Wednesday, September 30th, the New York Rangers officially bought out the contract of franchise goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. Drafted 205th overall in the 2000 NHL Draft, the odds were stacked against Hank from day one. He was labeled as a flop, a pretty boy, and a late round pick that would amount to nothing in his career. Lundqvist made his debut in 2005, and the rest is history. When you look back at the most iconic New York athletes of the last 20 years, and maybe even of all time, names come to mind like Patrick Ewing, Eli Manning, Derek Jeter, David Wright, and finally, Henrik Lundqvist. All over social media today, the hockey world, and the city of New York bid farewell to the future first ballot hall of famer.
I always tell a story of how I ran into Hank outside of MSG one night before a Kevin Hart show, and how warm and welcoming he was when chatting with a common fan off the street. It wasn't like I was speaking to a famous athlete, it was almost like speaking to a friend I've known forever. He shook my hand, wished me well, and walked off. It is a memory I will cherish forever. I have lived and died by the Rangers like no other team before, and I have never cheered for a Rangers team without Lundqvist. And so, with every fiber of my being; I want to say thank you for everything, King Henrik.
1x Vezina Trophy Winner
9x New York Rangers MVP
Ranked 6th in All-Time Goalie Wins with 459 (NHL)
Follow me on Twitter for all your latest NHL news and updates! @NY_cth
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning on their 2020 Stanley Cup victory!