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MacLellan Talks Vanecek Trade, Capitals Goalie Plan: ‘We’ve Got Work To Do’



Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek

Minutes before the start of the 2022 NHL Draft, Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan saw an opportunity and took it. In a surprising move, he traded Vitek Vanecek to the New Jersey Devils and the No. 46 pick in exchange for the No. 37 pick and the No. 70 selection.

The deal leaves RFA Ilya Samsonov as the Capitals’ lone goaltender heading into free agency, which kicks off on July 13. MacLellan said he hasn’t spoken to Samsonov yet, but the parties will get together to discuss his extension over the next few days.

“We’ve been trying to change our goaltending up a little bit,” MacLellan said. “This is the first step in doing that. We’ve still got some work to do to fill out our goaltending duo, and some further decisions to make as we go forward here.”

When it comes to why Vanecek was shipped out over Samsonov, MacLellan was blunt when asked if he prioritized one over the other.

“I didn’t,” he noted. “We were trying to move one of them and we ended up moving Vanecek. Just worked out. Supply and demand.”

Regarding which path Washington will take for a new netminder, MacLellan said the team will explore all avenues, whether it be the trade route or free agency.

“The goaltending market’s changing as we go here day by day. You try and stay in things you feel you’re attracted to and might be a good fit. We’ve got free agency coming up on Wednesday. So we’ll be involved in all of the discussions about goalies,” MacLellan explained.

READ MORE ON WHN: Capitals Close Out Draft With Karabela, Hofer & Gucciardi

As MacLellan said, the market is everchanging. Marc-Andre Fleury ended up re-signing in Minnesota for two more years. And on Friday, pending UFA Ville Husso was traded to the Detroit Red Wings and signed a three-year deal there. That leaves Darcy Kuemper as arguably the top name on the market, along with Jack Campbell.

Then, of course, there’s the trade route. Anaheim Ducks netminder John Gibson could be on the market. Sergei Bobrovsky’s name has also come up on the rumor mill.

“I think if you line it up and you look and kind of pay attention to what teams are thinking, it’s a little chaotic and scrambly,” MacLellan said of the goaltending market. “You’ve got to be constantly monitoring it and seeing what’s happening.”

MacLellan is also aware that a starter won’t come cheap. He said, though, that the Capitals can add a goaltender “right now” if they wanted to, and he didn’t seem overly concerned with dishing out money for a netminder.

“Given the environment, I think [the price for a goalie] will be high,” he noted.