If the Rangers start selling or rebuilding, Henrik Lundqvist should be traded, writes Metro New York sports editor Joe Pantorno. (Photo: Getty Images)

His prime might have come and gone, but New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist's brilliance remains present through the passing years. 

 

On Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, the 35-year-old etched his name into the record books by earning his 20th win of the season to help the Rangers end a three-game skid. 

 

He is the first goaltender in NHL history to earn 20 or more wins in his first 13 seasons and the first goalie to ever put together 13-straight years of at least 20 victories.

 

Lundqvist has been one of the best goalies of this generation, garnering four All-Star appearances while winning the Vezina Trophy for the NHL's best goaltender in 2012. He is also the best goalie in Rangers franchise history.

 

There's no debate:

 

Henrik Lundqvist career stats and Rangers franchise ranks

Games played by a goalie: 780 (1st)

Wins: 425 (1st)

Saves: 20,422 (1st)

Save percentage: .920 (1st)

Goals Against Average: 2.33 (4th)

Shutouts: 63 (1st) 

 

Since joining the Rangers for the 2005-06 season, Lundqvist has helped the Blueshirts qualify for the postseason 11 times in his first 12 seasons. Three times they went to the Eastern Conference Finals and once to the Stanley Cup Final where they fell to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. 

That's the closest Lundqvist has been to a Stanley Cup. It might be the closest he'll ever be to a title as a member of the New York Rangers. 

A wildly inconsistent team has left the star goalie out to dry at times this season thanks to a lacking defense that allowed 12 goals in two games prior to their win over the Flyers on Tuesday. Yes, the Rangers hold the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference as of Wednesday evening, but the Metropolitan Division is so tight that another downturn in play could all but ruin New York's season. 

During that three-game losing streak, rumors started to trickle out that the Rangers might be sellers come the NHL's Feb. 26 trade deadline where they could possibly trade away the likes of Rick Nash, captain Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello

Trading away such integral parts would likely usher in some form of a rebuild, which is the last thing a goalie like Lundqvist should have to contend with. As he faces the final handful of seasons of a Hall-of-Fame career, the Rangers should — and only if they are aggressive sellers at the trade deadline — do Lundqvist a favor and trade him to a Stanley Cup contender.

Granted, Lundqvist has a no-movement clause built into the contract that keeps him under team control through the 2020-21 season, but if the Rangers are going to take a step back and burn a year or two to regroup, there is no use in subjecting Lundqvist to it. Therefore, selling him on the idea of waiving that clause probably wouldn't be that difficult a task, especially if it is to a team on the cusp of making a serious charge at the Cup. 

While it would be a tough pill for Blueshirts fans to swallow seeing their franchise goalie depart, it's imperative that the Rangers — if they, in fact, one day consider dealing Lundqvist — trade him while he can still yield a high return. The price for Lundqvist at the right time could bring in some young talent that would quicken the process of building New York back up to contender status.

And if Rangers fans love Lundqvist as much as they say they do, they would have no problem seeing him move on to greener pastures