According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Washington Capitals are the frontrunner to sign unrestricted free agent goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on a “short-term, bargain contract” ahead of free agency, which will open on Friday at 12 PM ET.
Although bought-out ex-NYR goalie Henrik Lundqvist is currently UFA, he cannot formalize an agreement until Friday. That said, the word on the street is that WSH is the clear frontrunner for the King’s services on what would presumably be a short-term, bargain contract.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 6, 2020
The 38-year-old had the final season of his seven-year contract (which carried an $8.5 million cap hit) bought out by the New York Rangers last week.
The Capitals are preparing for goaltender Braden Holtby test the unrestricted free agent market and him not returning.
The team could use a veteran back-up goalie to help sophomore Ilya Samsonov through his first season as the team’s starter after the 23-year-old went 16-6-2 with a .913 save percentage, a 2.55 goals-against average, and one shutout in his rookie season and is expected to be the Capitals’ goalie of the future.
After a 15-2-1 start to his NHL career where he posted a .927 save percentage and a 2.06 goals-against average, the 22-year-old is 1-4-1 with an .873 save percentage and a 4.11 goals-against average since the All-Star break. He started only three of the Capitals’ final 13 games before the pause after getting pulled for the first time in his career in the team’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on February 11 when he allowed five goals on 20 shots. Samsonov tweaked a nerve during the NHL Pause and missed the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Lundqvist, 38, went 10-12-3 with a .905 save percentage, a 3.16 goals-against average, and one shutout in his final season on Broadway. He stopped 64 of 71 shots (.901 save percentage) while playing two games during the Rangers’ three-game qualifying round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. In 887 career NHL games, all with the Rangers, he has gone 459-310-96 with a .918 save percentage, a 2.43 goals-against average, and 64 shutouts. Though, he has not finished with a save percentage above .910 in three of the past four seasons.
The free-agent market opens on Friday and the Capitals are also reportedly interested in adding a defenseman and a forward.
By Harrison Brown