Photo: Star Tribune
According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, UFA goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s contract with the Washington Capitals will be for just the 2020-21 season. Swedish reporter Johan Rylander reported late Tuesday night that the 38-year-old will sign with the Capitals at 12 noon ET on Friday, when he is first eligible to sign.
Hearing a one-year deal with Henrik Lundqvist and the Capitals when it can become official. Which admittedly is an obvious term for this kind of arrangement.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 7, 2020
TSN’s Bob McKenzie said Lundqvist will come to Washington on a “short-term, bargain contract” on Tuesday. Lundqvist’s cap hit for next season has yet to be released.
When asked about the rumors after the first round of the NHL Draft on Tuesday, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said “We’re looking for a backup veteran goaltender. He’s a really solid candidate for us.”
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 on September 30.
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.
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.
With defenseman Michal Kempny set to go on long-term injured reserve to start the season after undergoing surgery on his achilles tendon earlier this week, the Capitals currently have a hair over $7.5 million remaining in cap space to sign Lundqvist, a defenseman, and a forward in free agency after re-signing defenseman Brenden Dillon to a four-year contract worth $3.9 million per season. Kempny is expected to be out for 6-8 months.
Rumors swirled that the Capitals were looking to clear cap space to re-sign Dillon but it is unclear whether they will have to do that with the relief they get by putting Kempny on long-term injured reserve.
By Harrison Brown