After re-signing Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals do not have much money to spend during free agency which begins at noon on Wednesday. But one area they may throw some benjamins at is in goal.
The Capitals, who still must sign starter Ilya Samsonov, lost Vitek Vanecek in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft last week. The team appears to have two capable goaltenders in the minors who could ascend to the position, Pheonix Copley and Zach Fucale, but the team may value a veteran NHL netminder after all of Samsonov’s growing pains over the last two years.
Two goalies the Capitals have reportedly shown interest in so far are Antti Raanta and Martin Jones.
Coyotes should be very active with trades/free agency. Phil Kessel has likely played his last game for Arizona – Vegas and Fla could be where he goes. Washington and Vancouver have some interest in backup goalie Antti Raanta. And Darcy Kuemper is a target of Edmonton and Colorado
— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) July 27, 2021
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) July 28, 2021
Raanta, 32, is coming off a three-year, $12.75 million contract ($4.25 AAV) that he signed with the Coyotes in 2018. The Finnish netminder has been an elite NHL goaltender at times during his career, but the problem is he’s never healthy. Raanta started in only 11 of 56 games for the Coyotes last season. The only time he’s started in more than half of the games in a season was during the 2017-18 campaign – his best in the NHL – where he posted a 2.24 GAA, .930 SV%, and 3 shutouts.
His availability however is in question. Andy Strickland reported on Tuesday that Raanta was likely to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
Hearing Antti Raanta and Carolina
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) July 27, 2021
Meanwhile, Martin Jones, 31, was put on unconditional waivers on Tuesday and is in the process of being bought out by the San Jose Sharks.
MARTIN JONES APPRECIATION TWEET.
It's been quite a ride, Joner. We wouldn't have made some pretty EPIC playoff memories without Game of Jones in net.
You'll always have your place in Sharks Territory 🦈💙 pic.twitter.com/0Yg0xBakEi
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) July 27, 2021
Jones has been a workhorse in the NHL since 2015, but has not posted a save percentage above .900 in three seasons. The 2020-21 campaign was arguably the worst of Jones’ career. The 6-4 goalie posted career lows in GAA (3.28) and save percentage (.896) which led to the buy-out. Jones had three seasons left in a six-year deal worth an AAV of $5.75 million.
The Capitals have other options if they’re patient too. Henrik Lundqvist is attempting to come back next season and could be available on the cheap if he fully recovers from heart surgery.
Whatever the Capitals end up doing at the position could end up playing a big factor in the team’s success next season as Samsonov has still not grown into the starting role yet.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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