On Wednesday afternoon, New York Rangers GM and president Glen Sather announced that he and all star goalie Henrik Lundqvist had come to terms on a 7-year, $59.5 million deal that will keep King Henrik in a blue sweater until he is 38 years old. Lundqvist would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and although the price is steep, New York couldn’t afford to allow him to leave New York. Lundqvist has been one of the top goalies in the league for a long time, and he could’ve fetched a higher price in free agency, because he’s worth it. But will he be worth it in seven years?
Lundqvist’s new deal carries an annual cap hit of $8.5 million through the year 2021. His salary, however, pays him like a real king, as he will be making $11 million next year, $10 million the year after that, then $9.5 million, $9 million, $7.5 million, $7 million, and then $5.5 million in the final year.
Lundqvist was one of the 8 UFA’s the Rangers had to re-sign this upcoming offseason, and one of the 14 upcoming free agents on the club overall. Lundqvist’s contract now leaves just over $25 million in cap space for the Rangers to re-sign Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Chris Kreider, and Michael Del Zotto. Callahan and Girardi alone could demand a price tag of at least $5 million a year, leaving only $15 million to sign key players like Derek Brassard, John Moore, Brian Boyle, and others.
Henrik Lundqvist’s new contract strains the team salary-cap wise, but how else does it affect the club? Lundqvist’s SV% and GAA have been decreasing since the 2011-12 season, and if the trend continues, he won’t be worth the $8.5 million cap hit by the time he’s 38. Did the Rangers overpay for the Swedish net minder’s services? For the immediate future, no, but a couple years down the road, when Lundqvist is 35 or 36 years old, this contract could be a real pain in the nether regions for New York. Lundqvist was easily the most important player Glen Sather had to re-sign, simply because there is no alternative for the Rangers in net. Rookie goalie Cam Talbot has posted solid numbers in the 9 games he’s played this year, but he’s still unproven and can’t be relied on to play the role of starting goalie in the NHL. Henrik Lundqvist could’ve fetched more in free agency from a team desperate enough, but he wants to stay in New York, and the hometown discount isn’t too tremendous, considering he’ll be the 5th highest payed player in the league next year. Sather’s got his goalie, now he needs to turn the focus to his captain and his defensive core.