GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Just two days after surprisingly watching from the bench for a second straight game, No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist agreed to a long-term extension with the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Lundqvist, in the final season of a six-year, $41.25 million deal, agreed to a seven-year contract reportedly worth $59.5 million. His salary-cap charge would rise from $6.875 million to $8.5 million and make him the NHL’s highest-paid goalie.
The Rangers didn’t release terms of the contract.
It has been an unusual week for the 31-year-old Lundqvist, who has been the Rangers’ unquestioned top goalie for years. The Swedish native is off to a slow start this season, especially by his standards, going 8-11 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 20 games.
With the sudden emergence of backup Cam Talbot, the slightest hint of a goalie controversy arose when Talbot was given the start by coach Alain Vigneault on Monday night at home against Winnipeg two days after he also started against Vancouver, led by former Rangers coach John Tortorella.
Talbot had won six straight starts before Monday, including a pair of shutouts, and hadn’t allowed more than two goals in any outing. Those runs ended in New York’s 5-2 loss to the Jets. Even with that outing, Talbot still sports a stellar 1.79 GAA in nine appearances.
Not that there was any doubt who the Rangers’ No. 1 netminder was, but now there is no question who it is and who it will be for years to come.
Lundqvist’s new deal will take him through the 2020-21 season and keep him away from free agency until he is nearly 40.
Lundqvist has been a Vezina Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top goalie in five of his eight seasons, winning the award in 2012. He is 284-182-57 in the NHL, all with the Rangers, with a 2.26 GAA, .920 save percentage and 47 shutouts.
He was a seventh-round draft pick by the Rangers in 2000 and made his NHL debut in 2005.