October 9, 2020 | 2:33pm | Updated October 9, 2020 | 2:35pm
The King is headed to the Capital.
After days of speculation following the Rangers’ buyout of Henrik Lundqvist, the veteran netminder signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Washington Capitals as the free agency window opened Friday afternoon.
“A new journey begins with ONE goal in mind. I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity to join the @Capitals,” Lundqvist tweeted.
“Henrik is one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history, and we are pleased to have him join our organization,” said Washington general manager Brian MacLellan in a press release Friday. “Henrik has the competitive drive and the ability to help our team compete for a championship. We feel he will be an excellent fit for our team and provide leadership to our organization and our young goaltenders.
The 38-year-old Lundqvist became an unrestricted free agent at the end of September as the Rangers bought out the final year of his seven-year, $59.5 million deal he signed in December 2013. He carried an $8.5 million cap hit and was scheduled to make $4.5 million with a $1 million signing bonus.
The Capitals parted ways with longtime goaltender Braden Holtby in free agency, as the 31-year-old signed a two-year, $8.6 million deal with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday afternoon. Goalie Ilya Samsonov is expected to be the primary starter for the Capitals next season.
“We want to thank Braden Holtby for his many contributions to the Washington Capitals,” MacLellan said. “Braden has built a legacy both on and off the ice that will have a lasting impact on our organization and on our community. Winning the Vezina Trophy in 2016, the Jennings Trophy in 2017 and helping the team win the Stanley Cup with his stellar play in 2018 cements his position as one of the best goalies of his era.
“Off the ice, he led by example and consistently made a positive impact across several important initiatives. We wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”
Lundqvist, who posted a record of 495-310-96 in 887 games with the Rangers, is expected to back up Samsonov as he competes for his former team’s Metropolitan Division rivals.
Holtby’s signing came after the Canucks were unable to come to an agreement on an extension with Jacob Markstrom, who was the primary starting goalie last season. Holtby had played his entire 10-year career win Washington, leading the team to its only Stanley Cup in 2018.
The Rangers signed 31-year-old goalie Keith Kinkaid to a two-year deal at a cap hit of $875,000 Friday, with $750,000 in the first year and $900,000 in the second.