According to Swedish reporter Johan Rylander, unrestricted free agent goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will sign with the Washington Capitals when the free agency market opens at noon ET on Friday.
— Rick Carpiniello (@RickCarpiniello) October 7, 2020
Any terms of a potential contract have yet to be released. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported on Monday that the 38-year-old would sign a “short-term bargain” contract.
The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta added that the two sides are likely to already have a deal in place.
Strong belief a deal is already in place between the Capitals and Lundqvist. He’s a UFA, so teams can talk to him, but he cannot sign officially until Friday at noon ET, at the earliest. https://t.co/jdwS1UT24T
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) October 7, 2020
Lundqvist 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 to test the unrestricted free agent market and for him not returning.
As a result, 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.
Capitals GM Brian MacLellan on the buzz re Henrik Lundqvist: “We’re looking for a backup veteran goaltender. He’s a really solid candidate for us.”
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) October 7, 2020
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