Capitals emerge as 'clear frontrunner' to sign Henrik Lundqvist

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The Capitals have emerged as the "clear frontrunner" to land 38-year-old goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in free agency, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

"The word on the street is that WSH is the clear frontrunner for the King's services," McKenzie reported on Twitter, "on what would presumably be a short-term, bargain contract."

Lundqvist would indeed be a good fit for the Caps on a short-term "bargain" basis. With Alex Ovechkin's contract coming due after the 2020-21 season, Washington is expected to part with longtime goaltender Braden Holtby, who could fetch a hefty sum via free agency.

Lundqvist was bought out by the Rangers last week after 15 glorious seasons in New York, where he carved out a Hall of Fame resume and became the sixth winningest goaltender in NHL history (459 wins). 'The King' is 14th all time with 61 playoff wins, although he's never won a Stanley Cup.

Lundqvist was supplanted as the starter in New York by 24-year-old Igor Shesterkin in 2020. With Shesterkin seen as the future, and fellow 24-year-old Alexandar Georgiev as his backup, it only made sense for the Rangers to buy out the remaining year on Lundqvist's seven-year, $59.5 million contract.

If he's willing, Lundqvist could serve as a sturdy backup to promising future starter Ilya Samsonov, similar to how Tomas Vokoun was brought in to help ease the transition for Braden Holtby during the 2011-12 season (although, hopefully this would work out better for the Capitals). Or how Brent Johnson started 19 games for the emergent 2008-09 Caps.

It's clear, at the very least, Lundqvist still wants to play, as exemplified by his tweet Sunday night.

On Saturday, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported that Washington was "interested" in Lundqvist and "considering it."