One of the primary story lines surrounding the New York Rangers this summer was the long-term future of franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The tagline of 'franchise goaltender' is rational enough to lockup King Henrik, but his on-ice performance over the years has reduced the need for labels. Lundqvist is a special player and one that every organization in the NHL would be glad to have.
Considering he is one-year removed from unrestricted free agency, the Rangers are permitted to sign the 31-year-old goaltender to an extension. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the team could sign him to a maximum term of eight-years, which likely would signal his final professional contract in North America.
Following the Rangers unceremonious end to 2013, Lundqvist provided cold comment when prodded about his interest in remaining with the team. Of course, he was shortly removed from the final game of his season, which ended poorly. His lack of enthusiasm is understandable.
Despite the short cycle toying with the idea of the King hitting the open-market, Lundqvist has largely voiced his love of New York City and the Rangers. On Wednesday afternoon, Swedish reporter Marie Lehmann tweeted comment from Lundqvist that reaffirmed his affection for all things Rangers:
Henrik Lundqvist: "the way the organisation & fans have treated me/how much I've enjoyed it- it's hard to picture myself playing elsewhere"— Marie Lehmann (@svtlehmann) August 14, 2013
When asked about the length of the contract, Lundqvist stated that many options were available. His personal preference was not mentioned.
All things considered, Lundqvist likely stands to break the bank with this next contract. It's not hard to imagine that he walks away with the highest salary ever given to an NHL goaltender, with Pekka Rinne and Tuukka Rask's contracts acting as the starting point of negotiations (both players have average annual values of $7 million).
The term is an interesting component to gauge. Both sides have reasoning to push for several years, as Lundqvist can earn more money and the Rangers can lower the annual average value against the salary cap. Of course, the club probably doesn't want to be tied to big-money as Lundqvist ages, which is obviously an issue when negotiating these kind of 'mega' deals.
Ultimately, the Rangers are going to deal with that component because players like Lundqvist are hard to find. And if they don't, somebody else definitely will.