When people aren't talking about Derek Stepan's upcoming contract, they're frantically panicking over Henrik Lundqvist's, whose current deal expires after this coming season. During last season's breakup day, Lundqvist sent a shock wave through Broadway when he more or less downplayed the idea of a contract extension. Of course, there was some anger and disappointment mixed in there, as the Rangers were just eliminated in five games by the Boston Bruins a few days prior.
We haven't really heard much from either Lundqvist or the Rangers over the last several months until two days ago, when Lundqvist spoke to Swedish reporters.
"The way the organization and fans have treated me, how much I've enjoyed it, it's hard to picture myself playing elsewhere. It's obviously going to be a very important part of my career, this next contract, there's no reason for me to deny that."
He also noted that he understands the amount of pressure the Rangers will be under to re-sign him, and that he didn't want to put extra pressure on the team or himself to get it done this summer. So to everyone's relief, Lundqvist has had some time to cool off during the summer, and is starting to come back to reality a little bit. But, there's no denying that last season's comments were a warning shot fired at the Rangers.
The biggest selling point right now for Henrik Lundqvist is the Rangers giving him the proper supporting cast, in order to take them to the ultimate goal. Lundqvist wants to win, and he wants to win really bad, to the point where he may think twice about re-signing with the Rangers if they aren't heading in the right direction.
While the cap situation will slightly improve next season for the Rangers, they still have a ton of players who are up for extensions; Ryan Callahan, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, and John Moore just to name a few. Pile those on top of Lundqvist's contract, and the Rangers will be handing out some serious money come next summer. Among all of those though, Lundqvist should still remain the priority, because without Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers would be heading down a pretty bumpy road in the near future.
At the end of the day we know one thing; when Lundqvist re-signs with the Rangers, he will be receiving an 8-year contract. The Rangers cannot afford to go through another situation like this by handing him a 4-5 year contract. The cap hit per year is where it starts to get a little tricky.
If the Rangers can convince him that they will properly support him with quality players there's a chance Lundqvist could take less money and be content with a real shot at the Cup. But, there's no doubt that he's one of the top goaltenders in the league and he definitely deserves to be paid like one.
Larry Brooks tossed around the possibility of Lundqvist making in the range of $9.5 million per year, something he could easily command on an open market. Lundqvist has more or less played himself into those type of contract numbers, and if he's demanding it, the Rangers sure as heck better give it to him.
What I'm getting at here is that the Rangers cannot afford Lundqvist to have the slightest bit of doubt in his mind when it comes to the Rangers future.If Hank's negotiations are handled poorly by the organization we could all be heading for a truly heartbreaking situation.