Penguins re-sign Letang; Avalanche acquire goalie Georgiev
Joe Sakic didn’t want to make the call to Darcy Kuemper telling him the Colorado Avalanche were not bringing back their goaltender who was in net when they won the Stanley Cup.
He also couldn’t afford to wait.
The champs started a domino effect of draft day trades that started to reshape the goaltending landscape around the league when they acquired Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers. The trade, which came just before Pittsburgh re-signed veteran defenseman Kris Letang to a long-term deal, set the stage for Minnesota to bring back Marc-Andre Fleury and Toronto to give up a first-round pick to shed Petr Mrazek’s contract.
“We wanted to get ahead of it, for sure,” said Sakic, who has now won the Cup as Colorado’s GM after leading the team to two championships as captain. “Alex, he was a priority for us. We like his age. We’re a younger team, and we felt we can have him for a number of years.”
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The 38-year-old Swede, who enjoyed huge success with the New York Rangers before signing with the Capitals last October, previously announced he would sit out the entire NHL season due to a heart condition.
"The checkup with the doctor this morning reaffirmed what I've been feeling last few weeks, everything looking great," Lundqvist wrote on Twitter. "It energized me so much I had to go out for a run (FYI, I'm not a runner) Today is a good day!"
The Rangers bought out the final year of Lundqvist's contract in September, ending the Swede's 15-season run as the face of the NHL's most valuable franchise.
Lundqvist holds more than 50 Rangers franchise records, including the all-time mark for wins, appearances by a keeper, shutouts, playoff appearances and playoff wins.
Known as "The King", Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender for the 2011-12 season and was a finalist for the award in four other years.
Lundqvist, who helped Sweden claim the Olympic gold medal in 2006, has earned more career NHL wins (459) than any other non-North American born goalkeeper and reached the 400-win mark faster than any other in his position.
Lundqvist's playing time with the Rangers decreased last season with the emergence of then-rookie Igor Shesterkin.