The Washington Capitals have agreed to sign former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.
News broke with the Capitals being the front runner in signing Lundqvist during the second day of the NHL Entry Draft where the two sides seemed to have an agreement in place. Lundqvist was recently bought out by Rangers, making him a free agent.
Lundqvist was the face of the franchise for the Rangers. He has spent his entire 15-year career since being drafted 205th overall in the 2000 NHL Draft. Since then he has compiled a 459-310-96 record along with a 2.43 goals-against average (GAA) and .918 save percentage (SV%). He’s played in five All-Star games and won the Vezina Trophy back in 2011-12. He made the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14, but ultimately fell short as the Rangers lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
Lundqvist is also the franchise leader in wins, games, starts, shutouts and saves.
Rangers Goaltending Depth Emerged
After the 2016-17 season, Lundqvist’s play started to deteriorate as his SV% started to decline and his GAA started to rise. The Rangers two promising goaltending prospects would eventually find their way onto the roster. One would eventually dethrone King Henrik from the crease.
Alexandar Georgiev looked like a possible option to replace Lundqvist in net. In 77 games, he went 35-31-7 with a 3.00 GAA and .913 SV%. There were times where he shined, but also where he struggled.
However, it was the phenomenal play of Igor Shesterkin that became the eventual starter, suggesting that Lundqvist’s time in a Rangers uniform was nearing an end. He went 10-2-0 in 12 games with a .932 SV% and a 2.52 GAA. It was during this stretch during the regular season that ultimately made Lundqvist expendable, leading to his eventual buyout.
Despite losing in the play-in round, Lundqvist took over for Shesterkin and proved that he’s still able to battle and be relied on in the crease.
Capitals Add Veteran Depth in Net
With Braden Holtby going to the free agency and a 23-year-old Ilya Samsonov assuming the role as the starter for the Capitals, they needed a capable backup for their starting netminder. Since his days as a starter are behind him, Lundqvist can be a mentor for him while still being able to provide some quality starts in a backup role behind Samsonov.
After winning the Cup in 2017-18, the Capitals ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs in 2018-19 and in the second round in 2019-20. They are still considered to be one of the teams to be contenders and eye for another championship, even as their window seems to be closing. Samsonov did prove that he is ready to be in the NHL after posting an impressive 16-6-2 record and .913 SV%.
With Lundqvist in the fold, it gives the team a chance to make another deep run and help get Lundqvist what he’s been longing for, the Stanley Cup. Even if Samsonov is having a rough stretch of games or isn’t able to handle the heavy workload, Lundqvist is more than capable to assume the role behind a more experienced defense unit. He could be the key factor that helps lead the Capitals to another championship.