Lundqvist to Caps, goalie carousel spins in NHL free agency

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FILE - In this March 28, 2018, file photo, Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, with New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30), of Sweden, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Washington. Lundqvist signed with the Capitals when free agency opened Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

Nets around the NHL will look very different next season after a flurry of musical goaltenders in free agency.

Henrik Lundqvist is joining a team he tormented in the playoffs for years, Braden Holtby is leaving the franchise he led to the Stanley Cup, Jacob Markstrom got big bucks to join the Battle of Alberta and Anton Khudobin is staying home, after all.

Beyond Khudobin, who stayed with the Dallas Stars after carrying them to the Cup Final, a handful of the top goalies in an overflowing market traded places Friday and most of the best options got new contracts.

"You saw the goalie carousel take place," said San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, who traded for goalie Devan Dubnyk this week. “You knew that there was a lot of goalies in play: different categories, different ages, certain skillsets, guys coming off good years, maybe down years.”

Lundqvist will continue his pursuit of the Cup with the Washington Capitals after signing a $1.5 million, one-year deal with one of the New York Rangers' top rivals. The 38-year-old Swede was bought out by the New York Rangers after 15 seasons and will now play with Alex Ovechkin and help Washington try to win it all again.

“The Capitals, they checked every box,” Lundqvist said. “A team that understands winning, a great coaching staff and an opportunity to play some games were the main factors for me. But there’s so many things that goes into this decision for me, starting with a chance to win. I think at this point in my career, that’s the most important thing: I want to have a chance to win.”

The longtime face of the Rangers will split duties in net with 23-year-old goalie of the future Ilya Samsonov. Washington added Lundqvist to replace 2016 Vezina Trophy and 2018 Stanley Cup winner Braden Holtby, who left to sign an $8.6 million, two-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Holtby had to take a pay cut, but in a flooded goalie market, the 30-year-old is glad he found a good fit with Vancouver.