Now that the Seattle Kraken have signed Philipp Grubauer in free agency, they are sending Vitek Vanecek back to the Washington Capitals. It was just a week-long vacation for the young netminder, who was claimed in the expansion draft and now sent back to Washington in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick.
This move will raise quite a few eyebrows, given the Kraken passed up the opportunity to select Brenden Dillon from Washington, only to see him flipped for two-second round picks on Monday. In fact, it’s one of those picks that Washington is using to reclaim Vanecek, sending Winnipeg’s 2023 selection.
At any rate, the Capitals have their tandem of Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov back intact and basically only lost a second-round pick in the expansion draft. The 25-year-old goaltender actually carries a cap hit of just $716K this season, less than the league minimum of $750K. That’s because of the three-year deal they signed him to back in 2019 before he’d ever even played at the NHL level. In 37 appearances this season, Vanecek posted a .908 save percentage, a 21-10-4 record and a 2.69 goals-against average. The Capitals would have been forced to look outside the organization if he hadn’t become available again, but they’ll now be able to go about an offseason as if nothing happened.
For Seattle, adding a second-round pick is important, even if it comes with some regrets. The big win here was signing Grubauer, who can anchor the franchise even if they go through a few growing pains in the early years. He and Chris Driedger will form the NHL tandem, while Joey Daccord is also still in the system.