NEW YORK — Henrik Lundqvist, the winningest goaltender in Rangers history, has signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals, the team announced Wednesday.
“This is an interesting piece of the puzzle, especially with [a World Cup of Hockey] on my horizon,” Lundqvist said at a news conference in his locker room, which remained unoccupied for the first time in his 12-year tenure with the Rangers. “I’m excited about moving forward and living in the U.S. for the first time in my career, as well.”
When asked how many other teams had made contact with him over the last few months, Lundqvist said, “I thought it would be much more.”
A six-time Vezina Trophy winner who is among the top goaltenders in the history of the NHL, Lundqvist, 36, had helped the Rangers earn the most victories in franchise history in each of the last three seasons, but under coach David Quinn, who came to New York after the Rangers fired their previous coach, Alain Vigneault, in April, the team had lost five of its first seven games this season.
But Quinn has not shown any interest in replacing Lundqvist, and the goaltender was part of a roster shake-up, which included a trade with the Los Angeles Kings, for defenseman Nick Holden.
The Rangers also traded a sixth-round draft pick to the Dallas Stars for Antti Raanta, who was then set to start in goal against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Raanta gave up two goals on 13 shots in his Rangers debut, and it was a 1-0 loss. The Rangers will use Anders Nilsson in net for Saturday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Lundqvist, whose contract with the Rangers ran through next season, now will join Washington, which plays at the Rangers on Dec. 29.