This could be an interesting add. Driedger had a fantastic first two seasons with the Florida Panthers. In 35 games he racked up a .931sv% and +21.6GSAA. Really impressive stuff. He left in free agency and became the first goalie to sign with the Seattle Kraken. Unfortunately for him, Seattle then went and signed Philipp Grubauer. Both goalies struggled mightily in Seattle though. Chris played 27 games and ended the season with a .899sv% and -5.9GSAA.
Like so many goalies on this list, anyone who acquires Driedger will be banking on him playing like he did earlier in his career. But even if you take his whole career and look at it he still has a respectable .917sv% and +9.5GSAA in 65 games. That’s not bad at all from your starter.
Chris is still young, about to turn 28, with two more years on his deal after this one at just $3.5M. There’s an argument to make that maybe he was thrown off his game when Seattle said he would be a starter then went out an signed a goalie for more money on a longer contract. He probably wasn’t happy about that. Could going to environment where they respect his starting ability help him out more? Granted, the Caps will still probably have a plan for one of their young guys battling him, but he would at least be given the chance to be a starter. If the Caps can get the Florida Dreidger, they’d have a strong starter on a great contract.
Lehner has had a hell of career in the spotlight on and off the ice during his 12 year career. His numbers are very good and reliable. Before he got to Vegas he played 301 games with a .918sv% and a +50.1GSAA. Where things got off the rails is when he joined the Golden Knights. In his two seasons there he wasn’t terrible, he still had a .909sv% and a +2.1GSAA in 63 games, but his time there was muddled with injury and head butts with the coach.
He will be 31 when the new season starts with a $5M cap hit for the next three years after this one. That’s actually pretty good for someone like Lehner, the only issue is his health. He played only 19 games last season and couldn’t even finish this season due to a shoulder injury and will have offseason surgery.
The positive would be the cost. Vegas is in cap hell and will be looking to shed salary. If they like back up goalie Logan Thompson or feel good about one of our goalies, they will probably be more than willing to offload Lehner. But again, the Caps will have to be comfortable with Lehner’s injury history because if he doesn’t work out, $5M AAV for three more years would be a major issue.
The Boston Bruins have two really good goalies in Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. The Bruins by no means have to move any of them, but it might be worth a call. Both are starter worthy and Boston might be willing to move one. The Bruins most likely would rather move Ullkmark over Swayman, since the latter is younger and cheaper. Ullkmark will be 29 when the season starts and will have three years remaining with a $5M AAV. He’s been strong his whole career. Again, unlikely Bruins move either but something MacLellan should keep his eyes on.
This is kind of a dream because the chances of it happening are pretty darn low, but if Caps could get their hands on Hellebuyck they should. He’s been arguably the best goalie the last five years. In that time he has a .917sv% and a +70.3GSAA on Jets team that has mainly been mediocre. They missed the playoffs this past season and there’s murmurs about the team could potentially blow it up. Mark Scheifele made it public he needs to have a serious discussion with the GM about where the team is going and Pierre-Luc Dubois is rumored not wanting to sign his RFA contract with the team this summer. That’s their top two centers who might want out. It’s probably not enough to make them blow it up but it’s worth a call if your MacLellan. O yeah, ask about Nikolaj Ehlers while you’re at it.
To sum it all up: goalies are voodoo. Just about every goalie on this list outside of Hellebuyck is going to have their negatives. Want to go young and cheap? Then you will have to deal with inconsistent history (Husso, Comrie, Nedeljkovic, Driedger). Want veteran and consistency? Well you have to deal with injury history and higher cap hit (Campbell, Kuemper, Gibson, Quick, Varlamov, Lehner). Want a perfect medium? Well it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg (Hellebuyck, Ullmark). If the Caps are going to grab a goalie to pair with one of their young guys they’ll have be pretty deliberate and decisive on who they grab. There’s a lot of good ones out there, here’s to hoping they grab the right one.