Just a few short years ago, many questioned Washington’s decision to take Ilya Samsonov in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. After all, the organization was loaded with goaltenders and prospects. Fast forward to present – there is a chance, understand CHANCE, that the organization could be left with a goaltending problem.
Braden Holtby isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to be protected in the upcoming Expansion Draft and is under contract. That much is sure, but his back-up, Philipp Grubauer is an enticing option for Las Vegas who has to select three goaltenders. He’s proven he has what it takes and if he leaves, well things get a bit interesting.
Pheonix Copley is not under contract. Having come over from St. Louis in the trade that brought Kevin Shattenkirk to DC, Copley filled in admirably at he #1 spot in Hershey until a groin injury sidelined him in the postseason. From what he has done and the fact that the Caps lean heavily on Holtby, he would be an option as a #2 in DC, but is largely unproven in the NHL.
Vitek Vanecek is under contract. The organization, specifically Troy Mann, noted that the idea was to bring Vanecek along slowly. That didn’t happen this season as the kid was literally thrown into the fire when the intended #1, Joe Cannata, did not work out as expected. All in all, Vanecek is coming along, but more than likely is a year or two away from an attempt in the NHL.
Ilya Samsonov has a year left on his KHL contract, so that route seems blocked for another season. Caps fans as well as Bears fans are waiting for the opportunity to see what the young Russian net-minder can do in person though.
Parker Milner, after spending a bit of time in Hershey, returned to South Carolina and helped the Stingrays to the Kelly Cup Finals. He’d be an option to return to Hershey next season. His back-up in South Carolina was Adam Carlson. He’s also a Caps prospect, but one would expect him to remain in SC next season.
Things should become a bit clearer once the Expansion Draft is over. Of course with Grubauer and Copley not currently under contract, things will still be a bit murky if neither heads west. Copley’s injury will more than likely keep the value of his offers down, but Grubauer should see some dollar signs.
Here’s a season-end review of the goaltenders along with some other recent pieces on the Expansion Draft and the goalies themselves.
Revisiting the Expansion Draft Rules…one more time
Vitek’s Late Season Heroics
Post and Courier article on Milner
By Julie Beidler