Kevin Weekes On WFAN: Rangers Need To Be Transparent With Henrik Lundqvist


Henrik Lundqvist is likely reaching the final stage of his illustrious Rangers' career. 

Lundqvist, an unrestricted free agent in 2022, has appeared in 28-of-59 games this season. He's shared the net with rookie sensation Igor Shesterkin, who's played superb in each outing and Alexandar Georgiev, a valuable asset as well — forming a three-headed monster in net for the Rangers. 

As he's set to celebrate his 38th birthday in March, many speculate whether Lundqvist would finish his career in New York or move on to a Stanley Cup contender for a season. NHL analyst Kevin Weekes joined WFAN's Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray to provide insight on what this season has been like for his former teammate.

"Henrik is super proud," Weekes said. "He's a future Hall of Famer. He loves New York. He loves everything about being a New Yorker. He's as proud as being a New Yorker and a Ranger as he is being Swedish, which is his heritage so that tells you something. It's been challenging for him ... the challenge for him is that it's a very different world. 

"It's very different set of circumstances and it's a very different kind of role for him, too, which is hard and that's difficult for anybody," Weekes added. "I played every role that you can play in the league outside of being a superstar. He played superstar and star. He hasn't played any other role so this is a huge departure from that and I know for a fact at times there are good days and bad days, there's a lot that he's processing emotionally. There's a lot he's processing psychologically based on his new reality he finds himself in."

Lundqvist's contract involves a full no-movement clause. He'd have to waive his right if the Rangers were able to find a suitable trade partner. Weekes doesn't believe Lundqvist will waive it either and says San Jose would've been an ideal destination for the Swede last season. 

"I'm a firm believer of — my main thing is it's uncharted territory and, although there's no official handbook, the most important thing for me is communication," Weekes said. "Respectful communication for all of the parties involved, all three of the goalies specifically Hank. Respect the tenure. Respect all of the playoff runs. Respect all the money the Garden made off his back, which is cool and it goes hand in hand. And just make sure the level of communication is proper towards him because he's earned that ... and just be as transparent and respectful as you can."

One of general manager Jeff Gorton's many decisions revolve around forward Chris Kreider. 

Kreider will be an unrestricted free agent following this season. He's slated for a decent pay raise from his current salary of $4.625 million. Gorton could deal Kreider, the team's first round pick in 2009, for a substanstial package — highlighted by a possible first-round draft pick — or hold onto the budding forward. Kreider has seven points in his last five games entering Tuesday, and is fifth among Rangers' skaters with 45 points this season. 

"Chris Kreider is a unique player, man," Weekes said. "Those guys don't come around very often. He's a little bit of a unicorn in that he's that size, that strength, that explosiveness and that speed ... I'm 50/50 on whether they're going to trade him. I know they're trying to find some common ground on a contract now. I don't know if they'll be able to get there but he'll be a big miss."

The Rangers' Chris Kreider shoots against the Edmonton Oilers on March 3, 2018, at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Canada.USA TODAY Images

Forward Artemi Panarin makes a strong case have his name mentioned in the Hart Trophy conversation. He leads the Rangers and is ranked fifth among NHL forwards with 79 points — 30 goals, 49 assists — this season. He landed in New York when signed a massive seven-year, $81.5 million deal during the offseason. The Russian lived up to the hype that surrounded him as the league's top free agent. 

Weekes calls Panarin the Blueshirts' best forward since Jaromir Jagr, who tallied 319 points in four seasons with New York. 

"I've got to give the Rangers a lot of credit," Weekes said. "And I say quite frankly, it was a missed opportunity for the other New York area teams. As much as I love and respect Lou Lamoriello ... whatever the Rangers are paying go up by a million, go up by two million, go up by three million because he's been that transformative as a player."