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It'll be a busy offseason this summer for Rangers' front office

Derek Stepan celebrates his third period goal against

Derek Stepan celebrates his third period goal against the Washington Capitals. (Feb. 17, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and Devils center Travis Zajac all signed lucrative eight-year contract extensions this season, the maximum allowed under the new collective-bargaining agreement. For their owners, the idea was to lock them up before they could test the market as free agents.

The Rangers don't discuss business matters, but with team MVP Henrik Lundqvist due to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2014, the front office is believed to be considering a lengthy extension before next season for the same reason.

That's just one of the offseason decisions the Rangers are weighing. Others include top-four defenseman Ryan McDonagh, team-leading scorer Derek Stepan and speedy winger Carl Hagelin. All are restricted free agents, and deals with significant raises are expected to be negotiated with them.

A special compliance buyout like the one given to defenseman Wade Redden could be used with Brad Richards, 33, who was benched for the final two games of the playoffs after a season in which the veteran's game deteriorated. Richards carries a cap hit of $6.67 million through 2020, which would be drastically reduced by a buyout.

Lundqvist, 31, who won the Vezina Trophy last season and is a finalist this year, signed a six-year, $41.2-million deal in 2008 that carries a salary-cap hit of $6.875 million. His future salary would be offset down the road by the removal of Richards' charges.

Coach John Tortorella's math in his post-series briefing -- he said other teams would love to have played 30 playoff games in the last two seasons, as the Rangers did -- was a little short. The Rangers have played 32: Twenty last season and 12 this spring. That is tied for the most with the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, who played their 32nd game in two seasons Sunday night against San Jose.

Those runs would have been impossible without Lundqvist. After a 24-win regular season, he finished the playoffs with a .934 save percentage, fourth best as of Sunday, and a 2.14 goals-against average, sixth among goalies who had played at least six games.

A disappointed Lundqvist didn't want to look too far ahead after the 3-1 loss that ended another season without getting to the Stanley Cup Finals. "In key moments throughout the year, we stepped up as a team, and that showed a lot of character, it got us into the playoffs, but it wasn't enough," he said Saturday. "But it was great to see the new guys come in, the way they helped us down the stretch."

Principal among those was center Derick Brassard, who led the team with 12 points in the playoffs, tied for fifth in the league. He averaged 18 minutes, 54 seconds on ice per game and won 50 percent of his faceoffs in his first postseason experience. And defenseman John Moore, 22, obtained with Brassard in the Marian Gaborik trade with Columbus on April 3, has become a Tortorella favorite.

But maneuvering is needed. Among the free-agent forwards whom the Rangers might consider at the right price: Chicago's 6-4 Bryan Bickell, the Devils' David Clarkson and the Capitals' Matt Hendricks.

With the salary cap being reduced from $70.2 million to $64.3 million, there isn't much wiggle room without shifting more salary in a trade. So the Rangers also will take close looks in training camp at forwards J.T. Miller, who played 26 games with the Blueshirts, and prospects Marek Hrivik, Christian Thomas, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast.

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