So the New York Rangers have extended the contract of Henrik Lundqvist for seven years, with an average annual cap hit of 8.5 million dollars. Ho-lee Betsy is that a big chunk of change.

If you’re defending the deal you point out that the cap is going up. You point out that goalies who average .920 save percentages over long periods of time aren’t easy to find. You point out that he’s basically the face of the Rangers, your fans would kill you if you let him walk as a UFA, and you’d have to find a replacement. Cam Talbot has started out just fine, but there’s certainly no guarantee there. He’s elite, and you gotta lock up elite.

If you’re opposed… 8.5 million! For a goalie! What’s the difference between a good and bad goalie, a few goals here and there? That money could be better spent. You can get quality goaltending for less. What long-term deal for a goalie has ever really panned out? Didn’t they take into account his age decline? He’s gonna be so old by the end of this deal!

Rask and Rinne currently have the highest AAV at seven mill a season. Henrik now blows them out of the water at $8.5.

All these things are playing out on Twitter:

I’d love to have a really great black and white take here – this is terrible, this is amazing – but it feels like neither to me. I’m definitely leaning towards the side saying “It’s not a great deal,” because he’d have to stay this dominant for a lot of years to justify that dough. And, if you’re flat-out building a team to win Cups, paying a huge chunk to an aging goalie has yet to be proven as the smartest play.

That’s not ideal.

There are certainly goaltenders you can point to who had success as they got older (Tim Thomas comes to mind. Brodeur, Luongo still effective), and I truly am of the belief that the numbers (success with age, I mean) are going to change with this current crop of elite goaltenders. Players are better longer now thanks to a better knowledge of training and nutrition, which is why we seem to be surprised every year when a guy like Teemu Selanne has a good year after 40, or Jaromir Jagr, or Ray Whitney, or Daniel Alfredsson, or on and on and on. Athletes bodies are better built to succeed later now.

But again, there is some real concern there, especially with how many games Lundqvist has played per season. That cap hit is going to be a real albatross if he slowly slinks below league average in a couple years and stays there.

The reality is that Lundqvist had the Rangers over a barrel. He was going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and lord knows he was getting That Deal or beyond on the open market. He’s only 31, not 37. Someone was paying him. So, there’s no reason for him to take a deal for four-five years, there’s no reason for him to take a five million dollar-a-year salary. What he’s done in the past warranted him getting paid, and he was going to get it.

So if you’re the Rangers, do you let this guy who’s been amazing for your team through the good and bad walk? Do you trade him at the deadline? What’s he worth to your franchise in other ways? What’s your backup plan if you don’t sign him? How much cheaper is another elite goalie, which every team wants to have?

In a vaccuum, placed beside other goaltender deals, you may not love the Lundqvist contract, and you’re justified in that. But I think the Rangers had to extend him, and with that, comes paying him what he’s worth. That’s what happens in sports. You can be a stud at 20, but you don’t get paid back for those entry-level years until you’re older and can prove you can sustain it. Henrik was at that point in his career – that payday point – so I think Rangers are at least justified in their decision to be the guys who pay him.

The whole idea of signing players to smart contracts is that at some point, you have money to pay the elite guys you need.

Comments (7)

  1. God I love Carey Price’s contract now. 6.5M till he’s 30. Seemed expensive at the time – but all deals will look good now that the Rogers money is going to trickle in.

  2. The Rangers sure didn’t have a lot of leverage here, though they might have been more persuasive in getting him to take a discount given his affinity for the city. Or maybe $8.5 mil WAS the discounted figure.

  3. Timing is everything and Lundqvist had it, the Rangers didn’t.

    Yeah, the term is too long but guess what, someone would have given it to him and with more money per year (“Hi, this is Ed Snider, I’d like to speak to Henrik please….).

    The actual dollar amounts aren’t bad. The new deal’s $8.5 AAV isn’t that much more than his current 6.9 AAV over 6 years.

    As a Rangers fan I don’t love the deal but it’s the one that was going to get done. And hey, it’s not my money.

  4. I think the only thing that matters is how he plays over the course of the contract. With the cap going up, and other tenders likely to start getting similar dollars over the next several years, it probably won’t be an issue… provided he can maintain his good play. the term and dollar amount won’t look bad within a few years time. If you’re betting on any goalie in this league, i’d say Lundqvist is the best bet.

  5. Quick at $5.8 AAV keeps looking better and better…

  6. This team is going to be in a bad cap crunch. Too many people seem to think the cap will rise enough to save them but I’m not buying it; if the cap rises then it’s just going to cost them more to resign their 18 Free Agents to be (They have 4 players signed past next season….good luck with that).

  7. Obviously, if Henrik follows the Thomas/Hasek/Vokoun model, all is well. I only observe that those guys have one thing in common with each other, and not with Lundqvist – they weren’t starters until at least age 26. (Vokoun was at least a well-used backup, with 136 games in four years as a backup from ages 22-25.) Some of the others, like Kipper and Nabby and Belfour, got the full-time job at age 25.

    Henrik’s gotten a lot of mileage early, and of those sorts of guys, there are three on Friedman’s list: Roy, Brodeur, and Luongo. Roy was the starter young but got the 50-30 splits typical of the 80′s, and didn’t play more than 54 games in a year until he was (yup) 26. Brodeur faced fewer shots/60 minutes than any of his peers until the Devils’ post-Cup years. Luongo, the closest comp to Henrik in terms of workload, had his only year on this list at age 31 (just missed at age 32), and since then has been good, not great.

    Henrik’s been ridden hard since age 23, and so far, those are exactly the sorts of guys who break down after age 35. If your a Rangers fans, you hope you get four good years and a Cup out of him before that point, or else that he is essentially the first goalie in history to be awesome under a heavy workload for fifteen straight years.

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