Lundqvist won't allow contract distraction

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
6:17
PM ET
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made it clear that any ongoing contract talks will cease if they threaten to distract the former Vezina Trophy winner on the ice.

The 31-year-old Swedish netminder said he won't let any haggling between the two sides get in the way of his primary task at hand.

"All I can say is that when the season starts I want 100 percent to be focused on my game and what I need to do on the ice. If I feel it's the slightest percentage, me thinking about my future and contract, we're not going to talk about the contract during the season," Lundqvist said after the team's first on-ice session of training camp Thursday.

"That's something we'll discuss if we don't have something when the season starts, but I know how I work as a hockey player and my attention's on the game and nothing else."

Asked if there is anything new to report regarding the discussion between his camp and the Rangers, Lundqvist said:

"I know they're talking. That's all I can say."

Lundqvist, who was 24-16-3 with a .926 save percentage and 2.05 goals against average last season, is entering the last year of a six-year, $41.25 million deal.

The franchise goaltender is seeking a significant raise, and deservedly so considering he has been the team's most consistent performer in recent years.

The Rangers are also locked in a contract stalemate with 23-year-old center Derek Stepan; the unsigned restricted free agent has declined to report for camp without a contract.

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After missing half of last season with a frightening eye injury, defenseman Marc Staal is back on the ice and eager to get started on a new season.

"I'm excited to play hockey and get going," he said.

The 26-year-old blue-liner, who was struck in the eye with a puck during a game in March, said he skated a great deal more this summer in preparation for his return.

Though his vision still has not changed much -- his affected eye remains dilated -- the time spent on the ice has allowed his perception to improve dramatically.

"I think I'm just more adapted to it and a lot more used to it. The vision hasn't changed much, but the perception of what I'm seeing on the ice has gotten way better than when I was trying to come back during the playoffs," Staal said.

• • •


20-year-old J.T. Miller, who spent 26 games with the Rangers last season, left the ice during conditioning laps. According to coach Alain Vigneault, Miller tweaked his hamstring, though the injury is not believed to be serious.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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