Photo: NBC Sports
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist announced on Sunday that he is aiming to join the Washington Capitals for the end of the season after returning to the ice from an open heart procedure he underwent in January.
The 39-year-old said that his training has gone “really well and I’ve been feeling good – but my heart isn’t quite ready.”
Right after getting back on the ice after surgery, I made it my “stretch goal” to join @Capitals for the end of the season. Training has been going really well and I’ve been feeling good – but my heart isn’t quite ready.
— Henrik Lundqvist (@hlundqvist35) April 11, 2021
“Last week’s checkup showed some inflammation around the heart that now requires a few months more of rest and steady recovery. While it’s not what I hoped for, I know this is all part of the process of getting back to 100%,” he added.
Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan told the media in December that Lundqvist has dealt with some heart issues throughout his NHL career.
Lundqvist told the public that he will have his aortic valve, aortic root, and ascending aorta replaced during his procedure on social media in December.
He announced on December 17 that his heart condition will prevent him from playing this season.
Lundqvist signed a one-year contract with the Capitals as an unrestricted free agent on October 9 after 15 seasons with the New York Rangers, who bought out the final year of his contract that carried an $8.5 million cap hit on September 30, and Braden Holtby signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks. The Capitals expected him to mentor Ilya Samsonov through his first season as the team’s No. 1 goalie.
The Capitals’ goaltending tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek has a combined no games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience.
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. He owns the sixth-most wins among goalies in NHL history, just seven behind Marc-Andre Fleury. In 130 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Lundqvist is 61-67 with a .921 save percentage, a 2.30 goals-against average, and 10 shutouts.
Lundqvist went 10-12-3 with a .905 save percentage, a 3.16 goals-against average, and one shutout in his final season with the Rangers in 2019-20.
By Harrison Brown