FanHouse's Adam Gretz takes a look at his top 50 players in the NHL. No. 10 is New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
There were 21 goalies selected in the 2000 NHL draft before the New York Rangers picked Henrik Lundqvist with the No. 205 pick. None of them, including Rick Dipietro, the No. 1 pick that year, have had more success than the now-27-year-old Swedish product, as he's blossomed into one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL.
Earlier this season he became the first goalie to ever record four consecutive 30-win seasons to start his career, and while that record may be somewhat misleading due to the fact he plays in an NHL without tie games, it's still an impressive feat.
The Rangers' 2008-2009 season came to a rather disappointing end in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, as they watched a 3-1 series lead slip through their fingers against the Washington Capitals, Lundqvist was probably the only reason they had a chance to play in the postseason. New York was the only playoff team this season to have a negative goal-differential (minus-eight), while only four teams scored fewer goals during the regular season (Phoenix, Los Angeles, the Islanders and Colorado).
Lundqvist has been a workhorse for the blue shirts the past three years, playing over 70 games each season, finishing in the top six for games played among goalies each year. He's never had a save percentage lower than .912, and his career mark of .917 is second among active goaltenders, trailing only Vancouver's Roberto Luongo. What makes all of that even more impressive is that he faces some of the most challenging shots in the NHL. According to the expected save percentage (via Behind the Net), Lundqvist has faced the hardest shots in the NHL over the past two seasons, and has still managed to help carry the Rangers, sometimes single-handedly, into the postseason.
He's yet to win any individual awards in the NHL, though he has been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy three times, and, oddly enough, the first year he wasn't a finalist (this past season) was the year he was selected for his first All-Star game. On the international stage, he was the starting netminder for Team Sweden during the 2006 Olympics when it claimed the Gold Medal, and he's also won the Golden Puck and Golden Helmet awards in the Swedish Elite League.
Finally, your obligatory YouTube video...