The Washington Capitals were hit with quite the unpleasant surprise this week when veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist announced that a heart condition would force him to sit out the 2021 National Hockey League regular season, this after signing a 1-year deal ($1.5 million) with the Capitals just one month earlier.
The news was no doubt a terrible blow to the beloved netminder but the Capitals have also been dealt a big blow as a result of this news and must now scramble to replace Lundqvist in goal. The Capitals have the option to make a trade but in this current climate it won't be easy, especially considering that the organization has virtually no cap space to work with. The more likely scenario is that the Capitals will target a goaltender among the remaining free agents on the market, a market that now largely contains veterans on the back end of their careers.
Here is a look at 3 realistic options for the Capitals and apologies ahead of time Capitals fans, these are not the sexiest of names.
#1 Ryan Miller
An established veteran with a whopping 780 NHL games to his name, Miller is in my opinion the best of the rest. He's coming off a 23 game season with the Anaheim Ducks in which he recorded a 3.10 goals against average and a .907 save percentage, and recent history doesn't shine too poorly on Miller either. Although he did it as a backup, playing less than half the games Lundqvist did over the same stretch, he has posted a better save percentage and goals against average than Lundqvist in each of the last 3 seasons.
#2 Craig Anderson
Anderson has, like Lundqvist, played far more games than Miller over the past 3 seasons but his numbers leave much to be desired. The 39 year old's most recent campaign, one that was admittedly on a bad Ottawa Senators team, saw him record a 3.25 goals against average and a .902 save percentage over 34 NHL games. His numbers over the previous two seasons have not been any better, but perhaps a change of scenery is what Anderson needs to revitalize his career.
#3 Jimmy Howard
Like Anderson, Howard is coming off a very poor season with a bad team. In Howard's case that team was the NHL's worst Detroit Red Wings, and that led to Howard recording a a terrible 4.20 goals against average and an awful .882 save percentage over 27 NHL games. That being said of all the goaltenders on this list, Howard is actually the one who most recently had a solid season as a full time starter. Just one year prior, again with the Red Wings, Howard recorded a 3.07 goals against average and a .909 save percentage over 55 games on a Red Wings team that failed to make the playoffs.
Honorable Mention: Cory Schneider
Schneider could very well be a contender for this role, however given the rather loud rumors that he has already come to terms on an agreement with the New York Islanders and Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello, it seems very unlikely that he is an actual candidate.