According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Henrik Lundqvist has signed a 7 year extension worth $8.5M per year. This should put any doubts about who the number 1 goalie is to rest, as Hank now becomes the highest paid goalie in the NHL. The raise is a modest $1.75 million from his current contract, so the cap hit, while large, is manageable.
Lundqvist, who turns 32 in March, has a contract that will pay him $1.5 million more than the previously highest paid goalies Pekka Rinne and Tuukka Rask. This is also the largest contract ever given to a goalie, and will likely remain the largest contract ever given to a goalie. Hank had the rare scenario of All-World talent, a team that desperately needs him, and a team with the means necessary to keep him. Plus, no goalie will be topping $8.5 million any time soon.
This season, Lundqvist has posted a 2.51 GAA and a .917 SV%, a far cry from his career numbers of 2.26 GAA and .920 SV%. But those numbers are misleading thanks to two games in California. Hank’s November stats: 2.27 GAA and .924 SV%. Much more in line with his career numbers.
In Lundqvist, the Rangers have not only the highest paid goalie in the league, but the best goalie in the league. What sets Lundqvist apart from every other goalie in the league is consistency. Tim Thomas had some stellar years. Jonathan Quick had a great season. Pekka Rinne had two remarkable years. But Lundqvist is as consistent as they come. Hank has not posted a SV% below .920 in the last five seasons. The three years (06-08) he did post under a .920 SV% were seasons he arguably stood on his head every night.
In addition to consistency on the ice, Hank has been remarkably healthy over his career. The Vezina winner has never missed significant time with injury, and has only had a few bumps and bruises along the way. Considering he has eclipsed the 70-game plateau four times in his career, that is incredible.
By locking up Lundqvist to a second long term contract, the Rangers have solidified their future in net is solid until 2021, when the contract expires. The risk in a deal this long, with Hank turning 32 this March, is that he will be 39 when the deal expires. Spending $8.5 million on a 39 year old goaltender might be a little rough, but the cap isn’t always going to be $64.3 million. In fact, there are already predictions of a $70 million cap for next year. Plus, Hank’s contract doesn’t qualify for the cap recapture penalty, so he can retire at any time. Keeping Hank in New York was always going to be a pricey endeavor thanks to the contracts handed to Pekka ($49M), Quick ($58M) and Rask ($56M), so there was really no way the Rangers were going to let Hank hit free agency.