This week has been quite the strange one for professional goal tenders. The current market of available goalies is quite possibly one of the most impressive in the history of the sport, with several legends up for grabs. Henrik Lundqvist was joined by Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford, Anton Khudobin, Jacob Markstrom, Thomas Freiss, Cam Talbot and Jimmy Howard. There are also rumors of the Vegas Golden Knights shopping Marc-Andre Fleury to teams around the league. Every team is looking for a world-class goaltender with league experience now that the draft is over and done with, so the rumor mills have been spinning. One consistent thing that we have been hearing, though, is Lundqvist and the Washington Capitals showing interest in each other. From the day that the New York Rangers bought out the remainder of his contract, league sources talked about discussions between the two parties.
With the Capitals parting ways with longtime starting goaltender Holtby, the organization was left with Ilya Samsonov to take the role of the team’s new starter. With Samsonov having to sit out the post season due to an injury sustained while training in Russia, it is a surprise to no one that the Capitals would want to supplement their goaltending. At 38 years old, Lundqvist showed that he is still a goaltender with playoff potential, so the move makes sense. The team is signing him to a one year, $1.5 million contract.
wow I spent three whole minutes on this and you look fantastic pic.twitter.com/6iE9ZLwmHD— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) October 5, 2020
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan told reporters of the signing during a conference call after the draft, “We’re looking for a backup veteran goaltender. He’s a really solid candidate for us.”
Lundqvist still seeks an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup, an accomplishment that has eluded the player since he was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 2000 draft. The Washington Capitals provide an excellent vehicle for the Swedish goaltender to achieve this goal, with the team winning the Metropolitan Division every year for the past five years and winning the Stanley Cup for the 2017-18 season. Four days after his buyout from the Rangers, Lundqvist tweeted, “I still love to compete. I still love the game and I still want to WIN!” With his extensive experience, Lundqvist is sure to provide the Washington Capitals with high quality goaltending.
Lundqvist has been the face of the New York Rangers for more than a decade, so the fan base is quite sad to see him leave. For the 887 games he played for the Rangers, he posted a 459-310-96 record, a 2.43 goals against average and earned 64 shutouts. He is the franchise leader for all goaltending records. The Swedish goaltender is also a five-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, the award for the league’s top goaltender, winning the award for the 2011-12 season. The entire fanbase, myself included, is sad to see the legendary player go, but he did not fit with the Rangers’ rebuild goaltending strategy. Lundqvist carried with him an $8.5 million salary cap hit and was going to make $4.5 million with a $1 million bonus for the last year of his current contract with the Rangers. Over the past season the Rangers have been adopting the multi-starting goaltender strategy that is being popularized by the Boston Bruins. Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin proved to be world-class goaltending talents themselves, leaving Lundqvist as an expensive third choice that was unsustainable for the team.
I am very excited to watch Henrik for the next couple of years. I doubt that this year with the Washington Capitals will be his last in the National Hockey League. Perhaps we will watch him finally lift the Stanley Cup this year, and then lead the goaltending talent for the Seattle Kraken after the team is allowed to take on free agents. Wherever the goaltender ends up, Rangers fans will cheer Hank on and wish him well in all future endeavors. After 15 years with the team, it’s hard to not support the man no matter where he goes.