Henrik Lundqvist Signs with Washington Capitalsby Liz Pendergraft October 11, 2020 0 comments
On September 30, 2020, Henrik Lundqvist became an unrestricted free agent when the New York Rangers bought out his contract. After the buyout, he made it known to everyone that he was not ready to retire and was still looking to compete in the NHL. On October 9, 2020, Lundqvist signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Washington Capitals. After the Capitals chose not to re-sign Braden Holtby, it left a spot open for Lundqvist to have the opportunity to work with Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov is coming off an impressive rookie season, posting a 16-6-2 record with a .913 save percentage and a 2.55 goals-against average.
Are Lundqvist and Washington a Good Fit?
The answer is yes. For fifteen years, Lundqvist has been one of the biggest faces of the Rangers. In his career with them, he’s 459-310-96 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 887 games. He was drafted 205th overall in the seventh round by the Rangers in 2000, making the jump from Sweden to the NHL in the 2005-06 season. In 2012 he was awarded the Vezina Trophy and was a finalist four other times. King Henrik led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup final in 2014, losing to the Los Angeles Kings. There’s no doubt he’s a first-class goalie, despite a dip in his numbers this past season.
Washington is just two years removed from a Stanley Cup title, so they afford Lundqvist another opportunity to win. In return, Washington gets a veteran goalie to work alongside Samsonov, plus additional veteran leadership in the locker room for the young players. Lundqvist has a great work ethic and is driven to be the best. That drive has served him well as the starter for the Rangers. He’s still capable of being a backup goaltender in the league, but he still has something to prove to himself and everyone around him. Lundqvist mentioned recently on Twitter how much he still wanted to play and compete.
I still love to compete. I still love the game and I still want to WIN!
— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) October 4, 2020
Looking Into the Future
His desire to win now is a perfect fit for the Capitals, but Lundqvist or the Capitals have made no mention of anything beyond the one-year agreement. A lot will go into that decision, of course, but ultimately it’s up to Lundqvist to decide his fate. He will need to be at the top of his game if he’s looking to re-sign with Washington or play on another team. There’s also the idea that Washington’s window for winning another Stanley Cup is closing. Also, a new coaching system takes time to implement. Both will be a determining factor in Lundqvist’s fate following this upcoming season.
For Rangers fans, it’ll be tough seeing their King in different colors. He’s sure to receive the same treatment any beloved ex-Ranger gets when coming back to MSG, provided fans are allowed into the games next season. In their minds, he will always be a Blueshirt no matter where he plays or when he retires.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images