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Could Henrik Lundqvist End Up with the Washington Capitals?

After a great career Henrik Lundqvist is no longer a New York Ranger. Does he want to play again? If so, might Washington be a destination?

When Henrik Lundqvist was bought out by the New York Rangers three days ago, a lot of hockey fans wondered why. Clearly, it was a simple matter of numbers. Had the Rangers not bought him out, the team would have entered the season with two other goalies beside Lundqvist – Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin. Three would have been one too many.

Related: Lundqvist Says Goodbye, Goaltender Bought Out By Rangers

After the “why” question, came the “will” question. In other words, will Lundqvist play again? In part, the answer to that question rests upon whether “the King” (as Lundqvist is called) would desire to play hockey again. The jury’s still out on that one, but the idea is appealing to fans. Could it be appealing to Lundqvist?

How Well Did Lundqvist Play with the Rangers?

What we do know is that Lundqvist’s time with the Rangers has ended, and that the Rangers are the only team he’s ever played for. When the ice chips melted, his record shows he was 459-310-96, had a goals-against-average of 2.43, and a save percentage of .918 in the 887 games he played – that save percentage was the best in Rangers’ history.

Henrik Lundqvist Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist, formerly of the New York Rangers

There’s no denying it, Lundqvist was one of the NHL’s best goaltenders – ever. What a career he had. He ended as the Rangers’ franchise leader in wins and shutouts during both the regular season and playoffs. He was nominated for the Vezina Trophy five times and won it once – in 2012. He was even nominated for the Hart Trophy once. To date, he’s the sixth-winningest goalie in NHL history.

It Was a Tough Decision for the Rangers – Except for the Money

Pragmatics aside, the Rangers’ made a tough decision. As James L. Dolan, Executive Chairman, MSG Sports, said: “Few players have been as important to the Rangers franchise as Henrik Lundqvist, and we are incredibly grateful for all he has done for our organization.”

Still, business is business and the Rangers’ salary cap burden will drop from $8.5 million to $5.5 million for the 2020-21 season. By the way, the buyout brings with it a $1.5 million salary-cap penalty for 2021-22.

What We Know About Lundqvist’s Decision

As Pierre LeBrun tweeted, Lundqvist has apparently not decided what comes next after his buyout. 

If Lundqvist does hope to play again in the NHL, he’ll become a UFA and could sign with any other team who wants to offer him a contract. That brings up the third question: Where?

Why the Washington Capitals Might Be a Perfect Fit

One team that might be interested is the Washington Capitals; and, the Capitals might be a fit. Given that 23-year-old Ilya Samsonov is the Capitals’ goalie of choice, perhaps Lundqvist could offer the team both a veteran backup and a mentor for the young Russian.

Ilya Samsonov Injured
Ilya Samsonov of the Washington Capitals

The Capitals have 28-year-old Pheonix Copley (who’s from the North Pole – no kidding – in Alaska) signed on a three-year $3.3 million contract, but Copley isn’t the most experienced NHL goalie and only has 29 games of experience. He isn’t really the best choice to serve as a backup. Two very young goalies might be risky.

Next: Petry’s Deal Could Be Start of New NHL Contract Trend

Vitek Vanecek might actually have a better chance to become the backup option than Copley, and in fact might make the team instead of him. Vanecek has no NHL experience. Put that all together and it means that the current backup situation in Washington is less than ideal. That’s where Lundqvist could help.

Although there may be other options, the Capitals might be the best possibility for Lundqvist. The Capitals also might be the team who’d be the most interested. It will be interesting to see what happens to the King over the next month or so.

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