Here’s my notebook from The Journal News and LoHud.com today (unedited version):
By Rick Carpiniello
GREENBURGH – Henrik Lundqvist enters the final season of his contract in September. The best and most important player the Rangers have didn’t sound anxious, or convincing, when asked about whether he hoped to get a long-term extension before the deal expires.
“Um,” he said, hesitating. “I’m going to talk to my agent and we’ll see. I had such a great time here in New York. From Day 1 they treated me really well and given me an opportunity to play a lot of hockey, so it’s been a lot of fun. I have one more year on the contract so I’m just focused on – well right now I’m just trying to get over this year – but we’ll see.”
As competitive a person as Lundqvist is, he surely doesn’t want to say anything that will hurt his bargaining position. But the Rangers will surely go to the wall to re-sign him, and Lundqvist probably won’t be giving a home-team discount.
Goalies play well into their late 30s, so Lundqvist, 31, still has a fair amount of prime left.
He disagreed with coach John Tortorella, who said this season was “not a backward step.”
“It is a step back,” Lundqvist said. “Conference final last year, we had high expectations on ourselves this year. It’s tough to make it there, though. You can’t just expect it to happen. We definitely hoped for better this year. … I don’t think it was good enough for us.
“Every year is important. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career. When you have an opportunity to go forward to win, you need to grab that opportunity. Last year was one of those years. This year I think we had the team to go for it.”
Also up for contracts are unrestricted free agents Ryane Clowe, Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy, Roman Hamrlik, and restricted Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin and Michael Sauer, who may be forced to retire. McDonagh is eligible for salary arbitration.
Clowe, McDonagh, Stepan, Hagelin and Zuccarello all expressed their desire to return. Stepan went as far as to say “I want my career to end here.”
Injury update: Marc Staal said the vision in his injured right eye may never be 100 percent again, but that he expects he can still play at the level he always has. A tear in the eye, from a deflected puck March 5, caused Staal to have recurring pressure spikes the eye, which led to disorientation, cramps in the eye and blurred vision.
Clowe would not say he suffered a second concussion, but hinted that he had; Darroll Powe admitted his injury was a second concussion, and that he was close to returning. Anton Stralman said his injuries, from a hit by Milan Lucic, were a fracture in his face and a separated shoulder.
Self-evaluation: Brian Boyle said “I sucked this year” and that “I let myself down, let my teammates down, the organization.” … Rick Nash, asked to rate his playoff performance (one goal in 12 games), said “good.” When the question was repeated, he nodded and said, “good.”