State of the Rangers

The Kings’ Cap

Henrik Lundqvist is an all-world goalie. He’s top 5 in the NHL, is a workhorse, proven clutch performer and only just entering his prime. Age and all aspects considered there is no goalie I would rather have man the Rangers crease. However, the fact remains that King Henrik takes home a Kings ransom. This isn’t a complaint because, of all the fat pay checks in recent Rangers memory Henrik at least earns his – and admirably so. However, given the growing trend in the league of teams going cheaper at the goalie position, will the Rangers be handicapped long term because of the large $$$ Henrik rakes in?

Eventually Wade Redden’s cap anchor will be off the roster and the same goes for Michael Roszival too. It’s hard to imagine Chris Drury pulling down 7m much longer, so there will be plenty more money to dole out over the next few years but it’s obvious that the Rangers are one of a decreasing number of clubs willing to invest big in arguably the most important position in hockey.

Looking at the strongest teams from last year and what goalies they’ll ice this year, the $$$ committed to goaltending are shocking. San Jose will pay 3 goalies combined (Niemi, Greiss and Nittimiyaki) less than Lundqvist. The Blackhawks new no. 1 Marty Turco takes home roughly 20% of the Swede’s total. The Penguins Marc Fleury has a cap hit of $5m (or, 1 Ryan Callahan less than Lundqvist) and The Capitals’ Simeon Varlamov is still on an entry level $821k per year. Of the top 10 winningest teams from the 09/10 season only two teams have goaltenders making 5m or more (Luongo and Brodeur).

If we look ahead (optimistically) and assume the Rangers have a couple of good years then a lot of players will want or require big new deals (think Del Zotto, Anisimov, Callahan, Dubinsky, perhaps Frolov etc). It will be interesting to see if the Rangers can afford these new deals and still add further pieces to the roster to build towards a cup. Any Rangers contender in the next half a decade will feature Henrik Lundqvist but will The King also be a financial problem going forward?

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  • In terms of salary (not cap hit), Lundqvist is actually the second highest paid goalie to Luongo. In terms of cap hit (not salary) he’s the highest paid goalie.

    Put Hank on SJ or Washington, and those teams win Cups. He’s worth it. Assuming Redden gets waived, the Rangers will have plenty of space to pay him.

    When it comes time for Hank to be getting pay cuts, the prospects will be entering their primes, thus the salaries should offset.

  • The move toward lower-priced goalies will prove short-lived, in my opinion. It will prove a short-term event that achieved short-term success only; no professional sport has ever sustained a winning formula where your key player is considered second-tier (basketball, football, baseball, etc…). Chicago and Philadelphia will never replicate last year’s success again, in terms of the player mix.

    • Hockey is the only sport where one hot player, in this case a goalie, can carry you through the playoffs though. Osgood, Niemi, and Leighton are average goalies that got hot.

      I personally believe you build from the net out, and spending money on goaltending is the right thing to do. More long term success.

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