Henrik Lundqvist recorded his first NHL win on Oct. 13, 2005. It also happened to be the first Rangers win I ever attended and I was 14-years-old. Nearly 15 years, 887 games and 459 wins later, the 38-year-old Lundqvist, who is the franchise leader in games, wins, and shutouts is at a crossroads. The team is moving in a new direction with rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Is there room for the beloved fan-favorite to remain? Or will he be on the move before the 2020/21 season? Below are the three outcomes he is facing:

Outcome 1: Lundqvist retires and returns to Sweden to continue playing hockey with his brother.

Ramifications: The Rangers free up $8.5 million in cap space and can glide into the season with an Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev goaltending duo.

This is probably the most likely of all the options, even though it would be incredibly disappointing to not give Lundqvist a proper send-off. Even more disappointing is the way he finished his otherwise sparkling career: losing both games he started in the 2020 playoff qualifying round, while also giving up seven goals. But that was less his fault and more so caused by the defense in front of him laying out a red carpet for opponents. Lundqvist has one year remaining on his contract and nothing we have seen in his interviews gives any indication that he would want to be traded to another team. Will he finish his career as a Ranger? If he does choose to retire, he may return to Sweden to continue playing hockey with his brother Joel for Frolunda. It is a team he has played for before in a country where he is a hockey hero. He could end up playing several more years, much like Dominik Hasek did following his NHL retirement. Hasek played in the KHL until he was 46.

Outcome 2: The Rangers trade Henrik Lundqvist.

Ramifications: It is unknown what the return could be, but would likely end up with the Shesterkin, Georgiev duo mentioned above heading into the season and the freeing up of some or all of $8.5 million (depending on who comes back in the deal).

This second one is without a doubt the least likely. Not only would a team not want to take on an $8.5 million 38-year-old goalie, but Lundqvist would also have to waive his no movement clause. Would he waive it for a contender so he could have one last crack at winning the Stanley Cup? Possibly, but how many potential contenders in 2021 are going to be in need of such a goalie? He is not currently strong enough to carry a team (unless he has a complete revitalization) and is too expensive to be a backup or play in a platoon-like situation. The only thing he’s got going for him if there are interested parties is that even at the high salary, it is only one more season. While my brain cannot fathom seeing Lundqvist in any color besides Ranger blue, it would be a crime if he retired as the second winningest goaltender in NHL history to not win a Cup (behind only Roberto Luongo, at 489 wins).

Outcome 3: Lundqvist plays one last season in New York before retiring. 

Ramifications: The Rangers trade Georgiev (who could fetch a moderately decent return) and Lundqvist plays 20-30 games as the backup to Shesterkin.

I saved the best for last, since to me, this is the most rewarding possible outcome. And I say that thinking with both my heart and my brain. Lundqvist gets to have the “Farewell Tour” he deserves while playing around 30 games and mentoring the heir to his throne. Lundqvist’s mindset coming into 2019/20 was that he was going to be the team’s number one goaltender. You can imagine the shock to his psyche when he ended up, at one point, the team’s third-string goalie. Should he choose to stay and finish out his contract, the Rangers can trade Georgiev and Lundqvist enters 20/21 knowing exactly what role he will have. The Rangers may get a second round pick or a roster player out of the deal while giving more development time to goalie prospects Tyler Wall and Adam Huska. The franchise is currently not in salary cap trouble, and so while shedding that $8.5 million would be nice, it is not exactly dire. And in addressing the end of Outcome 2, the Rangers are going to be a playoff team next season unless they suffer a catastrophic setback. They are a couple of pieces away from becoming a contender, but what if those pieces can be put in place this off-season? “Anything can happen,” as they say, and Lundqvist might want to take just one last chance to win a Cup in New York.

Which will it be?

None of these options hurt the New York Rangers and they all have their positives in some way, shape, or form (though two would definitely dampen the moods of some fans). I have been highly critical of Lundqvist in recent seasons, but he is one of the most important players to ever lace up skates on Broadway. If he were to retire, people my age would see just a little bit more of their childhood fade away. For me, I’ve been watching Lundqvist play on the Rangers for literally half of my life.

There is a lot of uncertainty with everything in the world right now and this situation is no different. There are no solid rumors one way or the other, so we will just have to wait and see. One thing is certain, however, and that is within the next year or two, we will be seeing Number 30 hanging from the Madison Square Garden rafters.