Lundqvist deal may look bad, but it’s the cost of doing business in today’s NHL

Henrik Lundqvist won’t be worth his $8.5 million cap hit six or seven years from now, but that’s the cost of securing the first four or five years that the Rangers really want him for.

Unless he’s able to duplicate the feats of Martin Brodeur or Tim Thomas, Henrik Lundqvist will not be worth the $8.5 million cap hit the New York Rangers will absorb in the final few years of his contract extension. But that’s not the point. This is the way business is now consummated in professional sports.

With players of Lundqvist’s ilk, there is a cost associated with retaining their services and that pain is typically felt at the end of the pact, when the superstar has begun to recede to mere mortal status. What the Rangers are paying for is the next few seasons, while Lundqvist is still in his prime and able to carry them, in theory, to great heights. Really, the club’s options were limited. Either overpay the face of the franchise in term and cap hit, or take their chances on a young stopper already in their system, in summer free agency or via the trade market. Glen Sather and company chose door No. 1 because there’s far less risk associated short-term. They have good reason to believe Lundqvist, 31, will continue to be one of the league’s best for the next few years, and if they’re lucky, for five, six or seven. In addition, the salary cap, currently at $64.3, is expected to spike next season and forecasters predict sustained growth over the life of the CBA. Some believe it will reach $100 million by the time the Lundqvist deal expires. The sides were smiles yesterday when the pact was announced, and apparently there was no ill-will during the negotiations. Some reports suggested ‘The King’ had been disgruntled that backup Cam Talbot was getting increased playing time, but a source close to Lundqvist refutes that, saying the star stopper “understood” the scenario and didn’t express any hard feelings. As for the chances Lundqvist will stay at the top of his game for all seven years – he’ll be 39 when it ends – they’re remote, but not impossible. A study of Vezina Trophy finalists since the 2005 lockout ended (below) shows their average and median ages are 30 and the oldest, Brodeur, was 38.

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