Could one of Sweden’s biggest hockey stars soon be coming home?
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist — a former standout in the Swedish Elite League — has been a target of SEL team Frolunda, the team he starred for at the junior and senior levels before coming to New York in 2005-06.
Now it appears Frolunda has overcome a big financial obstacle in bringing its local hero home.
This weekend Frolunda has put together financing to cover the cost of Lundqvist’s insurance, which is estimated at about $30,000 a month to protect the remaining two years and $13.75 million of his Rangers contract, according to reports from the Goteborgs-Posten and other Swedish news outlets.
All N.H.L.-paid insurance policies on players are suspended for the duration of the lockout, so separate insurance is necessary, and it is expensive.
Lundqvist was the Elitserien M.V.P. while leading Frolunda to the 2005 championship. He has said a number of times in recent weeks that he would consider returning there during the lockout. If he does, his insurance will be covered by a consortium of sponsors, a common practice among European clubs signing N.H.L. players during the lockout.
The Times reached out to Lundqvist’s agent, Don Meehan, who said there was “nothing to report” on Lundqvist and Frolunda — but if the club’s history is any suggestion, there could be soon.
Frolunda is one of only two SEL clubs to sign a locked-out NHLer after the league’s informal ban on the practice was overturned (Frolunda signed Matt Duchene, MoDo signed Alex Steen).
Hiring NHL players on a short-term basis is still a contentious issue in Sweden, even though the ban was declared illegal under Swedish and European labor law in September.
As such, several Swedish players have opted to play in other leagues in the interim — Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg joined Swiss club EV Zug, Dallas’ Tom Wandell signed in the KHL and Erik Karlsson joined Finland’s SM-lliga.