As the New York Rangers try and shake off their latest playoff disappointment, one of the main storylines for the club has been the contract status of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Eligible for a contract extension this summer, there are questions about whether or not the Rangers will try and lock him up, or if he’ll try and test free agency next summer.
When he was asked immediately after the Rangers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Hank was quite noncommittal and said that he’d have to talk to his agent. One would have to imagine that the likelihood of him signing an extension increased when John Tortorella was fired last week.
There’s no question that the Rangers want to lock Lundqvist up long term. Signing him to an extension this summer could save them a bit of coin as well. But is breaking the bank for a goaltender that is already over the age of 30 going to be the right move for the Blueshirts?
Henrik Lundqvist is one of the very best netminders in the league. He’s a perennial Vezina Trophy candidate. He’s carried the Rangers for stretches over the last couple of seasons and was easily one of the only reasons that they had as much success in this year’s postseason as they did.
There are rumors that the Rangers could throw between eight and 10 years at Lundqvist, which would come along with a cap hit around $10 million a year. That would be more surprising if their general manager wasn’t Glen Sather. While locking him up is important, a deal of that magnitude would be a mistake.
If what we’ve seen in recent years is any indication, though, the Rangers need to tread carefully with a potential Lundqvist deal. We’ve seen the Ilya Bryzgalov deal implode for the Rangers’ division rivals. The contract of Roberto Luongo is the only reason that it has taken over a year to trade him.
The Rangers could very well sign Lundqvist to an extension this summer. But they need to be careful. That caution should be exercised more with the term than the dollars. Throw big money at him, sure. But anything more than four or five years for a goaltender that is going to turn 32 next season could be something the Rangers end up regretting.