Maloney happened to turn to his left, toward Rockstrom and his list of prospects, and noticed that Lundqvist’s name wasn’t highlighted. He was still available.
“I knew some of the top-end players, but I had no knowledge of Henrik Lundqvist — I wouldn’t have known him if I tripped over him,” Maloney said in a 2012 interview. “As you get deeper into the draft, you’re basically looking for anyone with a heartbeat who can stand up and skate.”
Going on to become, with the possible exception of the Hockey Hall of Fame forward Doug Gilmour, the greatest player ever taken in the seventh round, Lundqvist won 459 games, had 64 shutouts and has 61 postseason wins, all Rangers records. Martin Brodeur and Tony Esposito are the only other goalies with 400 victories with one team.
For a spell — and not a short one, at that — Lundqvist was the best and most popular athlete in New York, though he had the misfortune of compiling his greatest season, in 2011-12, when he won his lone Vezina Trophy, at a time when the city was gripped by Linsanity, the sudden stardom of Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, and the Jets’ acquisition of Tim Tebow.
Neither player lasted beyond that season, but Lundqvist did. Finally reaching his first, and only, Stanley Cup finals in 2014, he lay sprawled facedown on the ice in Los Angeles after allowing the series-clinching goal in a Game 5 overtime loss. That a player of his caliber went that long before playing for a championship only reinforced that the best players on the best teams are rarely rewarded, and Lundqvist never got another chance to add a silver chalice to the Olympic gold he won in 2006.
Lundqvist originally took to the position because he liked the armor, the mask and pads and blocker, but later he realized how much he relished the attendant pressure, of being the last line of defense: In potential elimination games from 2013-15, Lundqvist went 12-3 with a .953 save percentage, according to Hockey Reference. But as his skills declined, so did his playing time, and the Rangers, with the young goalie Igor Shesterkin ascending, decided to buy out Lundqvist.
He intends to continue living in New York and won’t have to travel far when the Rangers retire his jersey at a game at the Garden this season, when, presumably, those chants will ring loud and long again. Lundqvist is a member of that canon of New York athletes identified by their first name — Eli and Derek and Carmelo.
And Henrik. Or, HEN-reek.