So… there's still a goaltending controversy in New York, right?
Not so fast, said the New York Rangers on Wednesday, as they re-signed star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a massive 8-year, $59.5 million contract. The deal lasts through 2020-21, and King Henrik will make $8.5 million in AAV against the cap. And now we spend the rest of the day debating just how much the Rangers overpaid their No. 1 netminder.
In the Rangers' defense, Lundqvist is the team's star attraction, a legitimate New York celebrity for a team that desperately needed one. It's not in every city where a stud young pitcher comes in and wants to be just like the hockey team's starting goalie, after all. It's also not as if he was going to get less money on the open market, and with many Rangers fans still sour over the firing of John Tortorella, letting Lundqvist walk may have proved worthy of a fan revolt. Lundqvist has a save percentage of .917 even after a terrible start, just below his career mark of .920.
With that said, that's a lot of money and a lot of term for a goaltender who started off his age 31 season really slowly. Hank is still technically on pace to have his worst season since 2008-09, which is certainly bad timing at the announcement of this deal. The Rangers are obviously anticipating the cap will make a huge jump, but Lundqvist pushing 40 at $8.5M per season isn't going to thrill anyone, unless he can pull off a hockey anomaly.
You see, Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada pointed out an interesting statistic as the deal was announced: only 26 times in National Hockey League history has a goaltender aged 31 or older put up a season with a save percentage higher than .920. Every single one of those seasons has happened in the last 17 years, but still, only Tim Thomas, Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy and Tomas Vokoun have pulled it off more than once. But then again, there's the argument to be made that Henrik is in that class.
We've twisted it around all we want to, but the fact is that the deal is done and we're going to have to wait and see it play out for ourselves. The Rangers probably needed to do this and the cap is going up, but the fact is they'll more than likely be paying a lot of money for a no longer good goaltender at some point in this deal. The question will be how soon that is.