Rangers sign Henrik Lundqvist to seven-year extension
It is a king’s ransom for The King.
Henrik Lundqvist will be a Ranger for the foreseeable future as the goaltender and the organization agreed to terms on seven-year, $59.5 million extension Wednesday.
The contract will go into effect starting next season and will take Lundqvist through the 2020-21 season. He will be 39 when the pact expires.
“Eight months ago I sat down with my family and my agent [Don Meehan] and kind of discussed my future,” Lundqvist told reporters at the team’s Greenburgh, N.Y practice facility Wednesday. “Two things became really clear to me. No. 1 was I really want to win the [Stanley] Cup here in New York. It’s my biggest goal and my biggest dream and what really pushes me right now to work harder.”
He was joined by owner James Dolan, President Glen Sather and head coach Alain Vigneault.
Lundqvist will earn $8.5 million every year of the deal. The $8.5 million annual average value of the contract will make Lundqvist the highest-paid goaltender in the NHL. Lundqvist would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“Secondly, I want to be a Ranger for life,” Lundqvist said. “That was a big thing that became really clear to me because how they treated me. Everything from coaches to players to people working around the organization, the city, fans, it’s been incredible to picture myself anywhere else, it was just wrong.
“[Leaving] was never an option. I know there was some speculation over the summer [but] from the heart it was never an option [for] me to leave this club. I’m just so proud an appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I can’t wait to see the challenge and try [to] bring the Cup here to New York. I think we have a really good team and I’m excited. I’m really excited.”
In his ninth season with the Rangers, Lundqvist has a 284-182-57 record, 2.26 goals against average, .920 save percentage and 47 shutouts in 531 regular season games. Only Mike Richter and Eddie Giacomin have more wins and shutouts, respectively, than Lundqvist.
A five-time Vezina Trophy finalist, he won the award as the NHL’s best goaltender in 2012.
“We have one goal left to do and that’s [win] the Stanley Cup,” Sather said. “That’s his goal, that’s what he wants to do, that’s our goal and we’re very comfortable with it. We have [Lundqvist] signed — he’s a great guy, great in the community, he’s great in the magazines, great in the commercials — and we’re excited to have him here. It’s up to you, [Lundqvist]. Now just carry us on your shoulders.”
Throughout the early portion of this season, Lundqvist has admitted his play hasn’t been at the level he expects it to be. He has an 8-11-0 mark with a 2.51 goals against average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts in 20 games. Heading into Thursday night’s game in Buffalo, his uncharacteristic up-and-down season mirrors that of the 14-14-0 Rangers.
Following the Lundqvist extension, the Rangers have nine players signed to $39.162 million worth of contracts for next season. Among the unsigned players are Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman, Justin Falk, John Moore, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider.
Even if the cap ceiling rises to $70 million — which many believe will happen — Sather will need to allocate supplementary funds. Sather could free an additional $6.666 million if it is decided to amnesty Brad Richards. Richards, 33, is in the third year of a nine-year, $60 million deal that includes a no-movement clause. He leads the team with seven goals and 20 points, and his 13 assists rank second.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.