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12 July 2007

Did the Rangers Pay Too Much for King Henrik?

There seems to be a bit of a debate brewing about the Rangers decision to ink Franchise Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year/$4.25 million dollar contract to avoid salary arbitration and build a bridge to a long-term deal in January. Some, including the New York Daily News' John Dellapina praised Lundqvist for working with the team and agreeing to put off signing a long-term deal to save the team some 2007-08 cap space. Others, including Larry Brooks of the New York Post, have pointed to the $2.667 million salaries earned by comparable two-year veteran goalies Cam Ward and Ryan Miller as evidence that the Rangers are paying Lundqvist significantly more than he would have been awarded in arbitration. Thus, the deal is actually a detriment to the Rangers' already perilous cap situation for the coming season.

I tend to agree with Brooks here. While Lundqvist is certainly the key to any shot this team has at success, the Rangers are not obligated to pay him more than what he should be paid under the CBA. Since King Henrik is an arbitration-eligible RFA, they were right to use arbitration as a way to prevent other teams from extending a cap-busting offer sheet. They also should have calculated what they believed he would have been awarded in arbitration and made that offer to him, with the promise to lock him up to a long-term deal in January. The team would have been in a position to save some cap space this year, while still being able to offer him the kind of big contract he would get on the open market.

Let's understand something here. The Rangers are still going to lock him up to the same 5-6 year deal at $5.5-6 million a year in January that they would have if they had saved the likely $1.5 million by going to arbitration, or signing him to a more reasonable contract. They aren't going to get any discount for giving him the extra money this year. The only difference is they now have an even more difficult cap situation this season than they should. I have no problem when the team signs players like Gomez and Drury to big contracts. They are playing by the same rules put forth by the CBA as everyone else. But, when it comes to a situation like this, the Rangers should also use all of the rules of the CBA to their advantage.

3 fanatics have replied:

Katy said...

I have to say that Lundqvist's raise is a bit much. Like you mentioned Cam Ward's raise to $2.6mil was after he won the Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy. Miller got the same after taking his team to the ECF twice.
Lundqvist got his team through two rounds of the playoffs and is getting double of what the other two are? Seems a bit off to me.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

Yes but, Lundqvist is proven, when Ward signed that deal it was just after a spectacular playoff performance, not a few solid seasons and a decent playoff.

Mike Thompson said...

I agree. Lundy has carried the Rangers on his back at times during the regular season and post-season. Not to knock Ward, but he hasn't.

Don't forget Lehtonen at $2.2 mil, Denis at $3 mil, Marty Biron at $3.5 mil, Huet at $2.75 mil, and Gerber at $3.7 mil. Look at their #'s and compare them to King Henrik and tell me if you don't think Lundy's $4.25 mil is worth every penny.

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