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The Washington Capitals re-acquired goaltender Vitek Vanecek from the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday night in exchange for the Winnipeg Jets’ 2023 second-round pick, according to NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes. Vanecek was the Kraken’s pick from the Capitals in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on July 21.
#SeaKraken GM Ron Francis talking to media: ‘We picked Vitek Vanecek [in Expansion Draft] expecting him to be part of our goalie tandem. We didn’t expect [goalie Philipp] Grubauer to make it to open market … 6 different teams called about Vitek’ [once Grubauer agreed to terms]
— Bob Condor (@ByBobCondor) July 28, 2021
The pick sent to the Kraken was acquired in the trade that sent left-handed defensemen Brenden Dillon to the Jets on Monday night.
This comes after the Kraken signed unrestricted free agent and former Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer to a six-year contract that carries a $5.9 million cap hit on Wednesday. With a surplus in the net and Chris Driedger ahead of Vanecek on the depth chart, the Kraken did not need Vanecek.
The 25-year-old goaltender went 21-10-4 with a .908 save percentage, a 2.69 goals-against average, and two shutouts in his rookie season in 2020-21. At five-on-five, Vanecek posted a .918 save percentage, a 2.41 goals-against average, a 0.66 goals-saved above average, and a .798 high-danger save percentage. Vanecek started 16 of 17 games from January 18-February 27 when Ilya Samsonov was out with COVID-19 and posted a .905 save percentage and a 2.92 goals-against average over that time.
The Capitals drafted Vanecek, who finished in sixth place in Calder Trophy voting as the NHL’s top rookie last season, 39th overall in 2014.
He stopped three of four shots in Game 1 of the team’s first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Boston Bruins before leaving with a lower-body injury. Vanecek did not play again in the postseason.
In 141 career AHL games with the Hershey Bears, Vanecek went 72-50-6 with a .919 save percentage, a 2.28 goals-against average, and 11 shutouts.
Vanecek has one season remaining on a contract that pays him $716,667 per year. The Capitals have $2,668,740 left in cap space to re-sign restricted free agent goaltender Ilya Samsonov and find a replacement for Dillon, which could require some salary cap gymnastics.
This is the first-ever trade between the Capitals and Kraken.
But in case there was question – #caps talked to multiple goalies today at lower price points before possibility materialized with SEA’s somewhat surprise Grubauer signing.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 28, 2021
By Harrison Brown