Henrik Lundqvist’s Rangers prophecy is on the brink of coming true

Regarding the Rangers, who face the perpetually out-of-the-playoffs, top-of-the-draft-selecting Sabres at the Garden on Friday:

1. Here is what Henrik Lundqvist wrote in an email on May 6, after the goaltender had made remarks at the World Championships indicating that he might not finish his career as a Ranger:

“My thinking hasn’t changed. The organization and I are on the same page. What I meant is that a player never becomes bigger or more important than an organization. My dream and goal is still to win the Cup in New York before I retire but at the same time, I as a player will be understanding of the position we are in and the process we are in.”

The process has reached the point where Igor Shesterkin, 4-1 after another sterling performance in Wednesday’s 5-3 victory over the Maple Leafs, has emerged as the clear No. 1. The process has reached the point where management has no desire to trade Alex Georgiev.

The process has reached the point as acknowledged by David Quinn prior to Wednesday’s match that, “It’s hard to keep three guys sharp.”

The process has reached the point, I believe, where the team isn’t going to try to do that for very much longer, if at all.

I don’t know exactly how this is going to play out the rest of the season for Lundqvist, who has seemed serene and perhaps a bit wistful since Shesterkin’s Jan. 7 arrival. It is hard to envision him practicing every day and then backing up every game. (Though I guess that’s what Alex Auld did during his two months as Lundqvist’s backup in 2009-10).

But I foresee the team’s two 24-year-old goaltenders (Georgiev celebrates his birthday on Sunday) settling into a rotation as the Rangers dig in here for a final push to remain in the playoff conversation.

Henrik lundqvust rangers goalie future georgiev shesterkin
Henrik Lundqvist skates off with Alexandar Georgiev.Charles Wenzelberg New York Post

And, regardless of whether Lundqvist is dealt at the deadline, and I doubt that will happen, I cannot imagine he’d return next season. A June buyout of the final year of his contract would represent a clear, clean break that would allow both the team and the King to move independently into the future. A buyout would save $3 million on the cap next year and add $1.5 million in dead space to the 2021-22 ledger.

“I don’t know if I’ll stay with the Rangers my entire career,” Lundqvist had said to the Swedish newspaper, Expressen, before the May 6 email. “I know what I want but if the club has other ideas, I’ll have to listen.

“You can’t just do your own thing.”

2. Remember how the Rangers were committed to moving the-then 27-year-old Derek Stepan before his no-trade clause kicked in on July 1, 2017? Stepan had completed two seasons of his six-year, $39 million deal when he was traded to the Coyotes on draft day for the seventh-overall selection and Tony DeAngelo.

Well, Jacob Trouba’s no-move clause kicks in on July 1, and management would be foolish not to listen if there are inquiries into the 25-year-old defenseman (26 in three weeks) before then.

The fact is, if he isn’t already, Adam Fox is going to be the Rangers’ No. 1 right defenseman lickety-split. He will be on his entry-level deal worth $925,000 per through 2021-22. Trouba is making $8 million per.

And depending upon Nils Lundkvist’s trajectory, could the Blueshirts present a right side the next five years featuring Fox, Tony DeAngelo — whose typically brilliant pass set up Filip Chytil for a far post tap-in against Toronto — and the Swede, who will turn 20 on July 27?

Probably not.

So the Rangers need more from Trouba, who has been erratic and skittish through his first year in New York.

3. Brendan Smith earned his ice time as a fourth-line winger while serving as a quite effective penalty killing defenseman the first four months of the season.

But now that Ryan Lindgren has supplanted Smith on the PK, there is little reason to continue to continue go with No. 42 up front.

Instead, as was the case on Wednesday, it’s time to get an extended look at 26-year-old winger Phillip DiGiuseppe, who brings speed and a physical element to the mix.

By the way, Lindgren is a guy you could juxtapose into the ’70s, taking on Clark Gillies in front. All right, trying to take on Clark Gillies.

4. Clubs are limited to four recalls after the deadline, and players must be on the AHL roster on Feb. 24 in order to be eligible to participate in the playoffs.

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So if the Rangers theoretically were to assign Fox, Lindgren, Kaapo Kakko and Shesterkin to the Wolf Pack and then recall them in Feb. 24 paper transactions, they would not be able to promote, say, Vitali Kravtsov. Or anyone else.

So the team’s options in the regard of getting their kids pro playoff experience are limited.

5. The Sabres as a cautionary tale: On their way to a ninth straight season out of the playoffs, a stretch in which the organization has had one first-overall draft selection (Rasmus Dahlin in 2018), two second-overalls (Jack Eichel in 2015 and Sam Reinhart in 2014), one seventh-overall (Dylan Cozzens last year) and three eighth-overalls (Casey Mittelstadt in 2017, Alex Nylander in 2016 and Rasmus Ristolainen in 2013).

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