With the expansion draft hours away, it appears the Washington Capitals are losing a young goaltender to the Seattle Kraken. Per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Seattle Kraken are likely to take Vitek Vanecek with their pick from Washington.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 21, 2021
Heading into the expansion draft, it appeared somewhat likely that Seattle would go for Vanecek. However, with names like Carey Price and Braden Holtby available, and Justin Schultz surprisingly left exposed, it appeared Schultz was the Washington frontrunner to head to Seattle.
Ultimately, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported, the Kraken elected to pass on Price despite getting the green light from ownership to take the Montreal netminder.
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It’ll be a tough loss for Washington, considering Vanecek is still a strong up-and-comer with a lot of promise. The 25-year-old made his unexpected rookie debut in 2020-21 after Henrik Lundqvist was sidelined with a heart condition. Vanecek then impressed enough to steal the starting spot from Ilya Samsonov after the Russian violated COVID-19 protocols.
Through 37 games this past season, Vanecek went 21-10-4 with a 2.69 GAA and .908 save percentage. He led all rookie netminders in wins. Further off-ice complications for Samsonov led to Vanecek being the No. 1 netminder for the postseason, but an injury in Game 1 ended his playoff run prematurely.
Overall, this will be a difficult loss for the Capitals, but they still have Samsonov, who is still arguably their goalie of the future. This opens the door for Washington to pursue a veteran to help mentor Samsonov and guide him in the right direction. Also, Pheonix Copley is still here for one more season and has shown his worth as a full-time NHL goalie.