The Washington Capitals offseason just got more interesting with the loss of Vitek Vanecek in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. The Kraken made the right choice and acquired a goaltender of the future.
The 25 year old went 21-10-4 in his lone season with the Capitals with a .908 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average. Vanecek was taken in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Caps and rose up the ranks beginning with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and the Hershey Bears of the AHL.
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Vanecek was three goalies that were taken by Seattle joining Chris Driedger and Joey Daccord. The Kraken passed on Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price. Driedger seems to be a lock for the starting goaltending job for the Kraken but Vanecek will highly be likely to be able to beat out the 24 year old Daccord for the backup goalie spot.
Losing Vanecek to the Kraken does not do the cap strapped Capitals any favors this offseason. They only lost Vanecek’s $716,667 cap hit. The Caps entered the expansion draft with just over nine million in cap space as is. They have yet to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Samsonov and now they even have to shop around for another goaltender.
The Caps could go in house and give Pheonix Copley or Zach Fucale a chance or maybe Henrik Lundqvist makes a triumphant return to the ice for the Caps next season. Copley has a cap hit of $1.1 million and had an .896 save percentage with the Hershey Bears last season in 15 games. He also was a backup with the Caps in the 2018-19 season with a .905 save percentage and a 2.90 goals against average.
Fucale posted a .932 save percentage with the Bears last season along with a 1.80 goals against average. He has a cap hit of $750,000 for the next two seasons. The 26 year old has zero NHL experience.
Last offseason the Caps brought on Henrik Lundqvist for a $1.5 million deal. He opted out of the season for heart surgery. In his final two years with the New York Rangers, Lundqvist posted .907 and .905 save percentages, respectively.
The Caps could also shop the open market for a netminder. Some options include Dave Rittich, Cory Schneider and Jaroslav Halak. Or the Caps could try their luck on another young netminder and have two young goalies running it back for the second season in a row.
If I were them, I would try to give Lundqvist a shot if the two sides can work out a good deal.