The draft pick Washington sent to Seattle was the second-rounder the Capitals acquired from Winnipeg in the Brenden Dillon trade Monday night.
The deal bringing Vanecek back to Washington was made the same day Seattle signed goaltender Philipp Grubauer to a six-year contract with an average annual value of $5.9 million.
Grubauer’s signing instantly put him atop the goalie depth chart in Seattle, with Chris Driedger presumed to fill the No. 2 role. The Kraken selected Driedger, who was an unrestricted free agent, in the expansion draft from Florida and signed him to a three-year deal. That would have left Vanecek as the team’s No. 3, the same spot he found himself last season in Washington before he ascended to No. 1.
Vanecek’s low cap hit and value at the position was one of the many reasons Seattle chose to select the 25-year-old — and also why Washington wanted him back. Vanecek carries a $716,667 salary cap hit next season and becomes a restricted free agent in 2022.
Now Vanecek looks poised to be the organization’s No. 2 goalie behind Samsonov, barring any other signings. Henrik Lundqvist, who missed the 2020-21 season after undergoing heart surgery, is still a potential option. However, the veteran goaltender has yet to be cleared medically despite resuming light workouts, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan said.
Vanecek was the safety net the organization needed last season to stay afloat and reach the postseason.
After starting the season third on the depth chart, he became the starter when Samsonov missed six weeks early in the season after he tested positive for the coronavirus. Samsonov later missed two weeks toward the end of the season and at the start of the playoffs because he landed on the league’s covid-19 protocols list a second time.
Vanecek was named the starting goalie in the playoffs before he suffered an injury in the opening game. A second-round pick of the Capitals in 2014, Vanecek went 21-10-4 with a .908 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average last season.