It looks as if Washington will soon have a King.
Former Rangers goaltending great Henrik Lundqvist is expected to sign with the Capitals when free agency opens Friday, according to a Tuesday report by Johan Rylander of The Gothenburg-Post. This comes just hours after the Blueshirts made forward Alexis Lafreniere the next face of their franchise with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft.
Washington always seemed a logical landing spot for Lundqvist, whose 15-year reign on Broadway ended last week when the Rangers bought out the final year of his contract.
“I still love to compete. I still love the game and I still want to WIN,” the 38-year-old Swede tweeted Sunday.
Lundqvist will have a legitimate shot at capturing his first Stanley Cup with the loaded Capitals, a divisional rival of the Rangers who won it all in 2018 and are well-positioned to capture another title next season. Over the last decade and change, Lundqvist battled Washington in five playoff series, winning three.
“We’re looking for a backup veteran goaltender,” general manager Brian MacLellan said during the draft. “He’s a really solid candidate for us.”
The Capitals are expected to let longtime goaltender Braden Holtby walk this offseason, which would make Ilya Samsonov the starter and create an opening for Lundqvist.
Lundqvist lost his starting job last season with the emergence of 24-year-old Igor Shesterkin, leading the Rangers to buy out the final season of his seven-year, $59.5 million contract. The move cleared $3 million in cap space.
The terms of Lundqvist’s impending deal with the Capitals, which TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie also indicated would take place, were not yet known.
Though it will be odd seeing the one they call “King Henrik” wear another team’s uniform after 459 wins with the Rangers, such a move is hardly unprecedented in these parts.
Across the Hudson River, Devils goaltending legend Martin Brodeur signed with the Blues in 2014 following a Hall of Fame run in New Jersey. He appeared in seven games with St. Louis before retiring that same season.
Even Joe Namath played four games with the Rams after an illustrious career quarterbacking the Jets.