As sands through the hourglass, so are the days of Henrik Lundqvist’s life until the Rangers’ franchise goaltender can become a free agent on July 1, 2014.
Yet hitting the open market is the furthest thing from the King’s mind as he prepares for his ninth season on Broadway. The objective, as Lundqvist told The Post Monday, is to sign a long-term extension that will keep one of pro sports’ best dressed men wearing the Blueshirt into the next decade.
“If we can find a solution, it’s no secret that this is where I want to be; I’m not thinking about free agency at all,” said Lundqvist, who hit the ice with a half-dozen teammates after returning to New York from Sweden on Sunday. “The way the organization has treated me, the way that our team has played over the last few years, the way I feel about New York City, this is definitely the place I want to be.
“But we do have a few things we have to talk about.”
Lundqvist, who will turn 32 in early March, characterized the talks between his camp and management as in, “the early stages.” The fact is that there has been little, if any, bargaining between the parties. The goaltender is entering the final season of the six-year, $41.25 million contract he signed in February of 2008.
His current $6.875 million cap hit is third among NHL goaltenders behind Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Boston’s Tuukka Rask, both of whom are in at $7 million per. Lundqvist is 24th in the league in average salary and second on the Rangers behind Rick Nash’s $7.8 million per. It is likely that the King will earn between $8.25 and $9.5 million on an eight-year max contract.
But in order to reach an agreement, the parties will have to do some actual negotiating. Lundqvist said that he will decide at the end of training camp whether to allow talks to continue during the season.
“Ideally, of course it would be nice to have everything in place by the time the season starts [on Oct. 3], but at the same time, it’s not a must,” Lundqvist said. “My agent [Don Meehan] is going to be handling it all until I have to be involved at the end, so I am going to be able to focus mentally on playing without the contract being a distraction.
“I have kind of downplayed this since the end of last season because I didn’t want to put pressure on myself or the Rangers to have it done by now. The most important thing is that we’re talking,” said the goaltender.
“We’re having a dialogue to come up with the best solution for both sides. If it’s not done at the end of training camp, I’ll see where we are and then I will make a decision about talking after the season starts. But I will not talk publicly about my contract during the season.”
The Rangers will hit the ice for training camp on Sept. 12, a day after reporting for physicals. It will be Year One under the reign of coach Alain Vigneault following three full camps and last year’s rush job under John Tortorella.
“I haven’t talked to [Vigneault] yet, but I’ve heard really good things about him from some guys who played in Vancouver,” Lundqvist said. “Any time there’s a new coach it’s exciting to see how it changes the team, the room and, obviously, how we play.
“For me, my game doesn’t change because there is a new coach. There will be bigger differences for the other players depending on changes in systems.”
Lundqvist, who said he plans to skate five days a week until camp commences, may not have spoken yet to Vigneault but he did speak to Tortorella following the coach’s dismissal.
“We texted back and forth a few times and we talked,” Lundqvist said. “It was good…it was all good. We had a good conversation.”