The Capitals entered the offseason in need of a backup for Ilya Samsonov and they got one in Henrik Lundqvist. Just don't tell him that. Lundqvist has been one top netminders in the NHL over the past 15 seasons and is now coming to Washington, but some experts don't think he's coming just to settle in as a mentor.
NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen made that very clear on the day Lundqvist was signed.
But when you come into a team that just let its franchise goalie walk in free agency for a 23-year-old who the team selected in the first round, you have to know what the situation is. Clearly Samsonov is the future in Washington. Rosen, however, thinks Lundqvist will have his eyes set on taking the crease in the present.
"Henrik Lundqvist is coming in for at least one season to take Ilya Samsonov's ice time," Rosen said on the Capitals Talk Podcast episode released Wednesday. "That's who he is. He is coming in, for lack of a better term, sort of as like an assassin, like I'm coming in to win and I want to play because that's what he wants to do."
Fair enough. What else would you expect from a Vezina winner who has been the No. 1 for the New York Rangers his entire career up to last season?
But he also has to be aware of the situation in Washington, right? The Caps don't just want Lundqvist to play well for a season, they also want a mentor for their young netminder.
"[Lundqvist's] not a mentor," Rosen said. "I've heard a lot about this, like 'oh Henrik Lundqvist is going to mentor Samsonov.' No."
Well, that's not ideal.
Yes, obviously the Capitals want Lundqvist to be great in 2020-21, but if he's not also going to help Samsonov that's not a great situation.
Before you start to worry, however, Rosen clarified that he feels Samsonov will benefit from having Lundqvist on the team.
How does a young goalie benefit from a veteran who is gunning for his job and who Rosen believes won't serve as a mentor? Learning by example.
"Henrik Lundqvist is going to help Ilya Samsonov, there's no question about it," Rosen said, "Because Samsonov's going to get to see him every single day like he saw Braden Holtby come to work every single day, practice as hard as he does every single day, the way he deals with his equipment, the way he deals with the media, the way he deals with the equipment managers and all these things and the work ethic that he has. So he'll help him in that sense and I'm sure he'll show him a few things too."