This news was growing more and more likely when the first bombshell of news dropped about the Kraken not selecting Carey Price from the Montreal Canadiens. Vanecek is one of three goaltenders that Servalli mentions the Kraken taking. The others include Chris Driedger of the Florida Panthers and Joey Daccord of the Ottawa Senators.
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Vanecek killed it in his rookie season with the Caps. A heart injury to Henrik Lundqvist opened up playing time and then he was thrown into the NHL fire even with even more responsibility after Ilya Samsonov tested positive for COVID-19. Vanecek went 21-10-4 last season with a 2.69 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.
Losing Vanecek leaves a big hole in the Caps crease. They opted to protect Samsonov instead of Vanecek which makes sense, I did the same thing in my protected list but sometimes that’s the unfortunate gamble and risk you take. Perhaps maybe the Caps can try to give Lundqvist a chance.
The biggest blow however, isn’t losing Vanecek who’s rookie season came to a bitter end in Game 1 against the Boston Bruins after winning the starter’s job. He exited the game with an injury after allowing the game tying goal and his absence was felt as the Caps suffered another first round defeat.
The big blow to losing Vanecek in the expansion draft is that only $716,667 is coming off the books for the Caps who only have nine million in cap space as it is. They have to not only re-sign Alex Ovechkin but give Ilya Samsonov a contract extension. If I were the Kraken though, I’d feel accomplished in hustling the Caps.
Expect a lot of changes coming in D.C. over the next couple of weeks as the Caps navigate the life of a cap strapped team. The offseason just got more interesting.