Sports: Capitals trade goalie Vitek Vanecek to Devils

Devils, goalie Vitek Vanecek agree to $10.2M, 3-year deal

  Devils, goalie Vitek Vanecek agree to $10.2M, 3-year deal The New Jersey Devils acquired Vitek Vanecek so he would compete for the starting goaltender job. Now they're paying him in line with those expectations. Vanecek and the team agreed to terms Tuesday on a $10.2 million, three-year contract that counts $3.4 million against the salary cap through 2025. After avoiding arbitration, he will make $3.55 million next season, slightly less than incumbent starter Mackenzie Blackwood, who is going into the final year of his contract. “There is an opportunity for me to play lots of games,” Vanecek said Tuesday from his home in Czechia. "I am really happy for that. I will battle with Mackenzie, and that’s what I need.

The New Jersey Devils are next to ride the goaltending carousel, acquiring Vitek Vanecek from the Washington Capitals. They will also receive pick No. 46 in the draft, while sending picks No. 37 and 70 to the Capitals.

Vitek Vanecek will take a trip up I-95 for his new NHL home. © Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports Vitek Vanecek will take a trip up I-95 for his new NHL home.

For a little bit of draft capital, the Devils found an answer in net, or at least someone to potentially pair with Mackenzie Blackwood as he looks to get his career back on track. Like Ville Husso when he was traded earlier Friday, Vanecek is without a contract for next season and will need to work out a new deal with New Jersey in the coming days. A significant difference, however, is that he is a restricted free agent who can’t get to the open market if the Devils extend him a qualifying offer (which they will).

Los Angeles Kings to retire Dustin Brown’s number

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That qualifying offer only needs to be $787,500, but Vanecek’s NHL history to this point would certainly land him more than that in arbitration. Since entering the league in 2020, the 26-year-old netminder has posted a .908 save percentage in 79 games, going 41-22-10 in the process. At his age, any multi-year extension would be buying out unrestricted free agent seasons, thus making a deal more expensive.

Despite only ever playing for the Capitals, this actually isn’t the first time Vanecek has been traded. He was also the Seattle Kraken’s expansion selection, only to be traded back to Washington last summer. By moving him now, the team has recouped at least part of the value it had to give up in that trade, while also opening a spot for a goaltending upgrade.

Free-agent defenseman John Klingberg changes representation

  Free-agent defenseman John Klingberg changes representation August is just around the corner and the top defenseman on the free agent market still hasn’t signed. John Klingberg was ranked fifth on our Top 50 UFA list two weeks ago but he sits without a contract or a team for 2022-23. Now, likely due to frustration from how things have played out, Klingberg is changing representation. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reports that Klingberg has parted ways with agent Peter Wallen and will now be represented by Newport Sports Management. PuckPedia adds that Craig Oster, one of the sport’s most influential agents, will take the lead for the free agent defenseman.

Though Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan admitted that Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov would both get qualifying offers, it was clear that he wanted to upgrade the position in some fashion. A plan for that appears to be in place; the only question will now be whether Samsonov is also moved out or if he partners with a newcomer for next season.

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