The New York Rangers franchise goalie is the highest paid goaltender in the NHL. Lately, he has struggled some and is having the worst statistical of his career. It’s time to ask the question: is his salary justified?
*All stats are compared only to the four goaltenders to be mentioned that are close to Henrik in salary. All statistics courtesy of Corsica Hockey
The list of Henrik Lundqvist‘s accolades go on and on. He will most likely go down as the greatest Rangers goaltender of all time. The Are, Sweden native will likely go down as one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history and will most likely be inducted into the Hall of Fame despite the Stanley Cup eluding him all these years. He is a New York icon in both sports and culture.
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It is because of his stellar career that the New York Rangers have been successful since 2006. Because of his consistently amazing play, he was awarded with the most lucrative contract amongst goalies in the NHL.
Currently, Henrik Lundqvist makes $8.5 million per year, tops in the league above Sergei Bobrovsky ($7.4m), Tuukka Rask ($7m), Pekka Rinne ($7m) and Carey Price ($6.5m). Statistically, Henrik Lundqvist has been one of the most, if not the most, consistent goalie in NHL history, posting 30+ wins every year he has been in the league, sans the lockout-shortened season. He has also posted a .920 save percentage or higher in each of the last seven seasons, and eight times total.
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Deeper Look at the Numbers
Last season saw a slight spike in his typical goals against average, despite posting an even strength save percentage of .936 while also facing the highest volume of shots (1532 shots at 5v5, 132 more than the second most faced by Braden Holtby). This year he has struggled some, quite atypically when regarding his career norms, but the consistency remains throughout his career.
The biggest factor in determining whether his contract is worth his play is by examining the consistency factor in his game. Sure, he might be struggling this year, but if the other eleven seasons of his career were as outstanding as they were, clearly he has met his worth on an overall career basis. Amongst these goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist has the highest save percentage between 2010-2016, at .923. He also has the highest even strength save percentage in this span of time at .932.
When looking at his salary this season, the answer might be different. Certainly, the team has some glaring issues defensively that affect the grand scheme of things, but let’s digress from that and dig into some of Henrik’s numbers this year:
Lundqvist’s even strength save percentage currently rests at .909, significantly lower than the four aforementioned goaltenders close to him in salary. He is also middle-of-the-pack with these five in terms of high danger shots against (229, Bobrovsky has faced the most with 261) and high danger save percentage (.829, Bobrovsky too has the highest, at .835).
Length of Contract
It is also worth noting that, amongst these five, Rinne and Lundqvist are both older. Price’s contract is up after next season, and it will be worth having this discussion again once Price is given his next one. Bobrovsky, who is one year younger than Price, will see his contract end after the 2018-19 season. Carey Price, in particular, may receive an extension that will set a new standard for elite goalies.
With all of this information, it can be confirmed that while Henrik Lundqvist’s salary may not exactly be a “bargain” per se, he has played to the quality of his pay in every season of his career. His consistency throughout his career has been a gift that many have unfortunately taken for granted and is of such a rare level across NHL goaltending history.
Despite the defensive mess in front of him, he has met some struggles this season at a level we have never seen before, and his salary may no longer seem justifiable. In spite of this, he is also one of the most deserving players when it comes to benefit of the doubt.
Even with his poor output as of late, it is to be expected that Henrik Lundqvist will return to a level we all recognize. There is no player more critical of himself than Henrik is; he will pull himself out of this funk, as he always does, and remind the Rangers and their fans that he is fully deserving of every cent of his salary.