Lundqvist's contract extension is reason to celebrate for Rangers fans
The anticipation is over. After rumors have circulated for months about a potential contract extension for New York Rangers’ star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the Swedish seventh round draft pick in 2000 finally signed a seven year extension worth $59.5 million on Monday morning.
Rangers fans no longer need to worry that Lundqvist would have possibly gone elsewhere after his current contract expired after this year. Now, Lundqvist is here to stay for most likely the remainder of his career, news which makes many fans of the Blueshirts extremely happy.
This was an extremely good signing by the Rangers for multiple reasons. One of the most obvious reasons is because Henrik Lundqvist is an extremely good goaltender, arguably the best in the entire NHL. Although he has gotten off to a rough start this season with an 8-11-0 record, Lundqvist is still posting a 2.51 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. His eight year career numbers are even more impressive. He has a 284-182-57 record with a 2.26 GAA and a .920 save percentage, which are some of the best numbers for a net minder during that span. He has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender in the league during a season five times and won the award in the 2011-2012 season.
The Rangers would be hard pressed to find a goaltender as good as Lundqvist on the free agent market this year, either. Some of the big names on the market are Sabres’ Ryan Miller, Ducks’ Jonas Hiller, Blues’ Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot and Avalanche’s Semyon Varlamov. While all of these goaltenders are formidable and certainly would give the Rangers a good starter, they already have a goaltender who is just as good, if not better, than all of the names mentioned above. Now that they have resigned him, the Rangers no longer need to worry about finding a replacement, which is going to be a huge weight off of their shoulders in an offseason where names like Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi need to be resigned and only nine current members on the NHL roster are signed beyond this season.
All of the other players the Rangers will have to potentially resign for larger deals after this year coupled with Lundqvist’s skills are reasons it was a good idea for them to resign him before his contract expired. Given his skills, plenty of teams were going to be interested in Lundqvist come the offseason, driving his price up. If his price went too high, the Rangers might not have been able to match it if they wanted to resign other key skaters on their team. So it was in the Rangers best interest to sign Lundqvist now while the only deal that he could see would be theirs because he is still under contract with them.
The resigning of Lundqvist certainly made sense, but it is the length of the deal that is something that might be concerning. Lundqvist is already 31 years old and will be 32 before the end of the season. This would make him 39 at the end of this contract. Lundqvist is good right now, but seven years from now, is he still going to be as dominant between the pipes as he has been for the first eight years of his career? It is very hard for a goaltender to be like Martin Brodeur and play into his 40s with the same skill that he had when he first stepped into the league. If Lundqvist begins to tail off towards the end of this contract, it will be a hefty $8.5 million a year for a declining goaltender. If he holds on and maintains his play, though, then this is one of the smarter signings in recent years for the Rangers.
Overall you can’t argue the Rangers decision to resign the proclaimed “King of New York.” He is one of the best goaltenders in the league and certainly deserves the money that he was given by the Rangers. Sure the contract might be a bit lengthy, but the Rangers believe that Lundqvist will be worth every penny, even when he is in his late 30s. And with the way he’s performed thus far in the NHL, it’s hard to argue that he won’t continue to do so.