With goaltending being the Washington Capitals’ biggest need entering the offseason, according to GM Brian MacLellan, who could fit with what they are looking for? NoVa Caps takes a look at pending unrestricted free agents as well as a couple of trade targets.
Darcy Kuemper – The 32-year-old went 37-12-4 (tied for fourth in wins), a .921 save percentage (fifth), a 2.54 goals-against average (11th), and five shutouts (tied for fourth) with the Colorado Avalanche in the regular season. At five-on-five, Kuemper earned a .928 save percentage, a 2.26 goals-against average, a 4.33 goals-saved above average, and a .863 high-danger save percentage. He also finished with an .879 save percentage and a 2.32 goals-saved above average on the penalty kill. Kuemper, who has posted at least a .920 save percentage and a 2.56 goals-against at most in each of the last five seasons, currently leads the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs in goals-against average (1.67) and is tied for fifth in save percentage (.930). He will likely command a contract similar to Jacob Markstrom of the Calgary Flames (six years at $6 million per season), maybe a little more (Markstrom earned a .918 save percentage and 2.75 goals-against average season before signing contract) but will likely sign for fewer years than Markstrom, who was 30 when he inked that contract, did.
Jack Campbell – The 30-year-old went 31-9-6 (11th in wins), a .914 save percentage (tied for 15th), a 2.64 goals-against average (tied for 14th), and five shutouts (tied for fourth) with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the regular season. At five-on-five, Campbell tallied a .917 save percentage, a 2.51 goals-against average, a 10.02 goals-saved above average, and a .786 high-danger save percentage. He turned in an .890 save percentage and a 3.94 goals-saved above average with a man down. Campbell, who has posted at least a .914 save percentage in each of his four full NHL seasons and a 2.74 goals-against at most in three of them, earned an .897 save percentage and a 3.15 goals-against average in the team’s seven-game first-round loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a series where neither teams’ goaltenders were particularly good. He will likely use Vancouver Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko’s $5 million cap hit as a ballpark but will likely start a little lower since Demko, who has posted a .915 save percentage in consecutive seasons, is four years younger than him.
Villie Husso – The 27-year-old has had a breakout season where he recorded a 25-7-6 record (19th in wins), a .919 save percentage (tied for sixth), a 2.56 goals-against average (12th), and two shutouts in his second NHL campaign. At five-on-five, Husso put up a .926 save percentage, a 2.38 goals-against average, a 6.09 goals-saved above average, and a .867 high-danger save percentage. On the penalty kill, Husso, who went 1-2-0 with a .906 save percentage and a 3.02 goals-against average in three postseason games before Jordan Binnington took the Blues’ net and has run with it since, earned a .888 save percentage and a 5.40 goals-saved above average during the regular season. Husso will likely cost around $2 million due to his inexperience and the fact that he yielded the starting job in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but the Capitals could feel as if they need a more experienced goaltender.
Cam Talbot (Minnesota Wild) – The Wild have expressed desire to re-sign Marc-Andre Fleury and Talbot expressed anger when the team acquired Fleury at the NHL Trade Deadline while he was in the midst of a season where he finished 32-12-4 (10th in wins) with a .911 save percentage (tied for 22nd), a 2.77 goals-against average (21st), and three shutouts (tied for 13th). If the Wild re-sign Fleury, who has expressed interest in returning, they could deal the 34-year-old, who has one year at $3,666,667 remaining on his contract. At five-on-five, Talbot finished the regular season with a .921 save percentage, a 2.35 goals-against average, a -0.33 goals-saved above average, and an .809 high-danger save percentage. Fleury performed better in all of those metrics during his time in Minnesota. On the penalty kill, Talbot, who allowed four goals on 26 shots (.846 save percentage) in one postseason appearance, tallied an .861 save percentage and 1.01 goals-against average while shorthanded over the regular season. Talbot has earned a save percentage of at least .911 in three straight seasons.
Semyon Varlamov (New York Islanders) – With Ilya Sorokin ($4 million cap hit) locked in and Varlamov a year away from unrestricted free agency ($5 million cap hit), the Islanders could opt to deal the 34-year-old after he went 10-17-2 with a .911 save percentage, a 2.91 goals-against average, and two shutouts this past year. At five-on-five, he earned a .909 save percentage, a 2.97 goals-against average, a -13.35 goals-saved above average, and an .817 high-danger save percentage. While the Islanders were on the penalty kill, Varlamov tallied a .908 save percentage and 1.31 goals-saved above average. Over the previous two seasons, Varlamov went 38-25-10 with a .921 save percentage, a 2.36 goals-against average, and nine shutouts. This possibility for the Capitals could be worse than the others mentioned since the Islanders could be hesitant to deal Varlamov within the Metropolitan Division.
By Harrison Brown
Slim pickings. I’d go with Keumper, assuming Varlamov won’t be traded inside Division
Except he’s 32 and maybe looking for a six-year deal? I’d be reluctant to give a 30-something goalie more than three, even if goalies develop later.
Proposed alternatives? Not a ton of viable candidates
Samsonov+ for Lehner
I never watched Campbell during the regular season, but I came away from the first round with higher impression. I admit I was rooting for the Bolts, but I felt that he stopped a lot of shots that I didn’t expect him to. He did lose, yes, but he did make some saves that were impressive to me.
Would be interesting to get Varly back after 11 years. If Cops isn’t resigned, he could come back as either #1 or #40.
I would not be interested in bringing Varly back. Reuniting part of Club Kettler would not be good, the supply of vodka in this town will suffer.
Not really a great selection. Keumper the best of the lot, except he’s relatively old. If he wins Cup, his price will go sky high. Husso has a great year but is he the real deal? Hence, risky to offer anything long term to him. Talbot is barely an improvement over the guys we have and he isn’t exactly the best teammate.
I would take Talbot!
Cam’s a Great teammate!
Husso, don’t care about lack of experience. He’s the most talented of the group.
And the youngest