The New York Rangers on Wednesday announced they had agreed to terms on a contract extension with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, a seven-year deal worth $59.5 million US.
His salary-cap charge would rise from $6.875 million to $8.5 million and make Lundqvist the NHL's highest-paid goalie.
The Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top netminder in 2012, he also holds the league record for most consecutive 30-win seasons to begin his career with seven.
"About eight months ago I sat down for the first time with my family and my agent and kind of discussed my future," Lundqvist said Wednesday after practice. "There were two things that became really clear to me: No. 1 was I really wanted to win the [Stanley] Cup here in New York. It's my biggest goal and my biggest dream and what really pushes me right now to work harder. Secondly, I want to be a Ranger for life.
"To picture myself anywhere else, it was just wrong and it was never an option."
New York general manager Glen Sather and team owner James Dolan agreed. That helped negotiations go smoothly until they were completed Tuesday.
“Since his arrival in 2005, Henrik has consistently been one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL,” Sather said in a statement released by the team.
“He is a proud representative of the tradition and class of this organization and we are excited to have him remain as a cornerstone of the franchise.”
Now Sather can turn his focus to a slew of other potential free agents, such as captain Ryan Callahan. He said behind-the-scenes talks are already underway.
"In my mind, Henrik was the one that had to be signed first, and that's the way we tried to do it," Sather said.
After a slow start to this season, the 31-year-old Lundqvist has a 8-11-0 record in 20 games with a 2.51 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
Lundqvist would have become an unrestricted free agent next July, but his new deal will take him through the 2020-21 season and keep him away from free agency until he is nearly 40.
It has been an unusual week for Lundqvist. With the sudden emergence of backup Cam Talbot, the slightest hint of a goalie controversy arose when Talbot was given the start by Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Monday night at home against Winnipeg two days after he also started against Vancouver, led by former New York 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.
7-time Rangers MVP
Lundqvist, who's in his ninth NHL season, is a seven-time Rangers MVP and second on the club's all-time wins list with 284, 17 shy of Mike Richter.
The Swede's 47 shutouts are two behind Ed Giacomin's franchise-record 49. Lundqvist has a 2.26 GAA and .920 save percentage in 531 games.
"He is everything that you would want on and off the ice," Dolan said. "As a team owner, he is the model of what you want in a player and a leader."
Lundqvist entered this season as the lone NHL goalie with an active streak of eight straight 20-win seasons.
His most productive season came in 2011-12 when the three-time NHL all-star established career bests in wins (39), GAA (1.97) and save percentage (.930).
In the playoffs that season, he posted career highs in games played (20), victories (10), shutouts and GAA (1.82).
Lundqvist is also a two-time Olympian, winning a gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.