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Henrik Lundqvist: 'It's hard to picture myself playing elsewhere'

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Henrik Lundqvist loves New York, but how does he feel about a possible max extension? (USATSI)
Henrik Lundqvist loves New York, but how does he feel about a possible max extension? (USATSI)

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Henrik Lundqvist has become one of the game's premier goalies and is the veritable face of the New York Rangers. The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner has just one year left on his deal with the club and some talks have already taken place regarding an extension.

While in his native Sweden for the national team's Olympic orientation camp, he spoke with Swedish TV network SVT2 about his future with the Rangers and the possibility of a maximum extension. SVT's Marie Lehmann provided some translations via her twitter account:

It may be hard to picture, but Lundqvist could command a gigantic salary and max term as part of his extension. It is likely that's exactly what he would get as an unrestricted free agent.

With the market as it is and Lundqvist's status as one of, if not the best goaltender in the league, he could conceivably get eight years at around $8.5 million to $9.5 million per year as Larry Brooks noted weeks ago in the New York Post (via Sporting News). That's a lot of coin.

However, it doesn't seem Lundqvist is in any rush to sign a max deal, one that could take him to the end of his career as he is now 31.

We'll see indeed. The Rangers would have to think long and hard about just how much they'd be willing to invest in Lundqvist and for how long. He isn't getting younger and it would be difficult to expect him to maintain his status as an elite goalie into his 40s.

The Rangers are still within a window of Stanley Cup competitiveness however and a lot of that hinges on Lundqvist. It might be a case where the Rangers have to invest in Lundqvist's past-prime years to milk every last ounce of what he has over the next few seasons.

Lundqvist didn't go into any detail about the status of negotiations, but said whether a deal was done before the season or not, he can't let it affect his game.

The Swedish goalie obviously has close ties to New York and doesn't seem to be in any rush to leave, but the offer is going to have to be right. Lundqvist clearly understands that.

The Rangers will have a lot of work to do over the next two years to maintain several key pieces of its core to compete for the Stanley Cup. The team is still working on re-signing restricted free agent center Derek Stepan and will have to contend with contracts for captain Ryan Callahan and shutdown defenseman Dan Girardi that are due to expire next season.

Lundqvist should remain a priority, however, and the team at least feels confident something will get done, with assistant general manager Jeff Gorton saying as much last week.

(h/t Sporting News)

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