- Neil Greenberg, NHL
Henrik Lundqvist agreed to a seven-year, $59.5 million extension with the New York Rangers last week, giving him the fifth highest cap hit in the NHL after Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Corey Perry. The King's annual cap hit will be $1.5 million more than any other goalie, including Boston's Tuukka Rask and Nashville's Pekka Rinne, who have cap hits of $7 million next season.
The Blueshirts didn't have much choice. Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy for his work in the 2011-2012 season, and was a finalist last season after posting a 24-16-3 with a .926 save percentage. He has been the Rangers' MVP for seven straight campaigns, and was in net when Sweden won the gold medal during the 2006 Olympics. To see him in net for another team just wasn't an option.
But all of that doesn't make it a good deal. In fact, it could even be argued that the contract will become an overpay within the next few years, even against a rising salary cap.
Since the NHL started tracking save percentage (1983-84) there have been just 96 seasons where goalies aged 32 to 38 have posted an above-average save percentage over 40 or more games played. Only eight have done it four or more times: Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Tim Thomas, Curtis Joseph, Dwayne Roloson, Martin Brodeur and Tomas Vokoun. I'd agree with you if you said Lundqvist is as good or better than some of those netminders, but it gets harder and harder for a goaltender to be better than average over the long haul the older he gets.
In the chart, you can see the breakdown of those 96 seasons by the goaltender's age at the start of the campaign.
The Rangers were backed into a corner when it came to signing the face of the franchise, but they aren't alone: every year, contracts are handed out that end up on the wrong side of the return on investment ledger. Here is a look at some of those, along with some bargains and some justifiable high-cap hit contracts.
Goalies are a fickle bunch. One season, they're a Stanley Cup champion and a finalist for the Vezina Trophy; the next they post a below-average .902 save percentage but are signed to a 10-year contract extension worth $58 million anyway. Quick's 2013-14 record of 10-5-0 is impressive, but his save percentage is not (.905). His two backups -- Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones -- who get paid $1.1 million collectively, have combined for a 0.950 save percentage. The player with the eighth largest cap hit in the league should at least be able to outperform his backups.