In this ten-part series, I will be dissecting ten different careers thus far. The series is fully called “Players Ages 28 and Younger who will end up in the Hall of Fame.” Feel free to argue a selection or the rankings at the end of the series.
In an area of Sweden where alpine skiing is the most popular winter sport, and hockey is somewhere at the bottom of the top ten, most people would not pick hockey.
Henrik Lundqvist, however, is not most people.
He grew up in Are, Jamtland, and started to play hockey as a young kid. He was a forward, though, until his brother raised his hand for him when asked if anyone wanted to play goal.
Thus, King Henrik the goaltender was born.
Lundqvist started his professional career playing for Frolunda, which was his favorite Elite League team when he was growing up. He was already the possession of the New York Rangers, having been drafted 205th overall. However, he knew that he had a lot of work to do if he ever wanted to play in the National Hockey League.
He got his big break when he had an unbelievable season in 2004, and was named the sixth-best European prospect by The Hockey News—the only goaltender in the top ten.
In 2005, he only made the Rangers happier when he broke national records for lowest goals against average (1.05), highest save percentage (.962), longest goalless streak (172 minutes 29 seconds), and most shutouts in a season (6). He was named best goaltender, best Swedish player, and the league’s MVP.
Lundqvist made his NHL debut in 2005, when starting goalie Kevin Weekes was injured. In his rookie campaign, Lundqvist put up impressive numbers, with 30 wins in only 52 games. He had a .922 save percentage and a 2.24 goals against average.
In a season full of impressive rookies, though (Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Dion Phaneuf), Lundqvist was passed over for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, and instead was named one of three candidates for the Vezina Trophy for best NHL goaltender.
In his second and third NHL seasons, he was named the Rangers’ MVP by his teammates, and was also given Vezina Trophy nominations. As of this moment, he has not gone a single season in the NHL without being nominated for the Vezina. It’s only a matter of time before he wins one.
In only 195 games, King Henrik has put up 104 wins, a .917 save percentage, a 2.27 goals against average, and 17 shutouts. At this rate, if he plays an average of 70 games for the rest of his career, he will end his career with about 400 wins.
That may be unlikely, but he is an unbelievable goaltender, and the ninth-most likely person under 28 to be in the Hall of Fame when his career is done.
The other articles in this series can be found here: