- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) - Just two days after surprisingly watching from the bench for a second straight game, No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist agreed to a long-term contract extension with the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

Lundqvist, in the final season of a six-year, $41.25 million deal, agreed to a seven-year contract reportedly worth $59.5 million. His salary-cap charge would rise from $6.875 million to $8.5 million and make him the NHL’s highest-paid goalie.

More importantly, it should keep him starring on Broadway for the rest of his career.

“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.

The Rangers didn’t release terms of the contract.

“There were lots of pieces,” Sather said. “This was a very friendly, peaceful, low-key, unemotional decision to be made by everyone. It was fun. I enjoyed it.”

With the salary cap projected to rise, one hurdle was cleared.

“A lot of that is speculation, so far. You still have to be careful,” Sather said. “We have a cap to deal with; we have other players to sign. It is terrific that Henrik decided to stay here. If he had gone someplace else, I am sure he would’ve earned more money, but it always isn’t money that’s a factor. You have to have a competitive team.

“This organization is all about team, and Henrik is all about team. There was no `I’m going to leave if you don’t give me what I want.’”

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.

Callahan said he hasn’t tied his contract situation with Lundqvist‘s, but he made it clear that he also wants to stick around.

“This is where I want to be,” he said. “I am not going to air it out in the media about my contract and what is going on. I will just go about my business on the ice, and that stuff takes care of itself.”

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