The Seattle Kraken have added to their goalie collection on the opening day of free agency. The 32nd NHL team signed Philipp Grubauer to a six-year deal with an average annual value of $5.9 million on Wednesday. The goaltender is coming off a three-year deal with a cap hit of $3.333 million with the Colorado Avalanche.
Grubauer is entering his 10th NHL season. Through 214 NHL games, he has a record of 109-61-21, a .920 save percentage (SV%), a 2.34 goals-against average (GAA) and 18 shutouts. He played six seasons with the Washington Capitals before joining the Avalanche before the 2018-19 season. During his time with the Capitals, he was a backup goalie. He slowly became the starting goaltender once he joined Avalanche, playing 37 games as a backup to Semyon Varlamov in the 2018-19 season, then playing 36 games during an injury-ridden and Covid-19 shortened 2019-20 season. He had a career season in 2020-21, starting 40 games, posting a 30-9-1 record, a .922 SV%, 1.95 GAA and seven shutouts. He also finished third in Vezina voting.
Kraken Find Their Starter
Despite picking three goalies in the Expansion Draft, including Chris Driedger, Vitek Vanecek and Joey Daccord, the Kraken have now added a true starter. Grubauer has a lot more experience than all three goalies combined and will undoubtedly be the club’s starter at the start of the 2021-22 season. He brings the experience of playing on a winning team, as he has spent most of his career playing with elite teams. If he can repeat the same success as last season, while staying healthy, he will be a great acquisition for the Kraken. As for Driedger, he still has to prove he is starting goalie, as he only started 23 games with the Florida Panthers last season.
Driedger and Vanecek were originally expected to split starts next season for the club, but with the addition of Grubauer, one of them may be traded this offseason. Vanecek is more likely to be moved out of the two picks, as Elliotte Friedman believes the Capitals have interest in re-acquiring the goalies they lost in the Seattle Expansion Draft if the Kraken want to trade him.
Avalanche Extend Core Players, Need Goalie
The Avalanche were able to re-sign their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, to an eight-year, $56 million deal and extended Cale Makar to a six-year, $54 million deal. The club was able to focus on signing two key players but lost Grubauer in the process. The organization now has one goaltender on their main roster in Pavel Francouz, who was injured for the entire 2020-21 season. Francouz did start in 34 games in the 2019-20 season, posting a 21-7-4 record, a 2.41 GAA, .923 SV% and one shutout.
Still, Francouz may not be the goalie to help the Avalanche achieve their ultimate goal of becoming Stanley Cup Champions. Therefore, the club will have to look for a starting goalie elsewhere. Their best option may be to trade for Arizona Coyotes’ goalie Darcy Kuemper.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.