Jake Oettinger has been out of contract with Dallas for most of the summer, but as a restricted free agent he knows he will play for the Stars this season.
With certainty in mind, Oettinger watched with interest as other goaltenders shuffled around the NHL.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’m just a hockey fan, so it’s fun. I love free agency and everything to see where guys go.
While Oettinger has a No. 1 job entering a season for the first time, Eight other teams are expected to have new starting goalies, and 23 veterans will have new teams, just one less than in 2021. This is the second straight offseason hockey’s most important position has been overhauled across the league.
After Darcy Kuemper brought the Avalanche back to the Stanley Cup, they still had a lot of players to re-sign and didn’t have enough salary cap space to bring him back.
So Joe Sakic and the front office turned their attention to bringing in a third starter in as many years, trading draft picks to the New York Rangers for Alexandar Georgiev, who backed Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin last season.
“Alex, he’s a priority for us,” said Sakic, the year’s general manager who is now Colorado’s president of hockey operations. “He’s a guy that from our scouting to our analytics department we’ve all seen a lot of upside. And he’s proven that when he focuses and plays a lot of games, that’s when he’s at his best.
Georgiev, who signed a $10.2 million, three-year contract, will share time with Czech veteran Pavel Francouz but is the clear starter.
CAPITALS OF WASHINGTON
The 32-year-old Kuemper, too expensive for the Avalanche to keep, signed a $26.25 million, five-year deal in Washington after Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan committed to overhauling his team’s entire goaltending picture. .
“Then obviously you start looking forward to a new chapter, another new adventure,” Kuemper said.
The Capitals also added Charlie Lindgren as Kumeper’s backup and hope to make another long playoff run after four consecutive first-round exits since winning the Cup in 2018. this is not a bad first step.
“This is a team that has won it recently,” Kuemper said. “And I think we have a good chance to win it here. Once you get that taste of winning, you want to do it again. “
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Vegas was an unexpected participant in the annual goalie go-round after Robin Lehner’s hip injury got to the point where a doctor didn’t think he would make it through the season without surgery, which instead knocked him out. him for the time.
That revelation didn’t come until August, a month after the shuffle was completed.
“The injury season took away the possibility of being involved in free agency or, in fact in many respects, the trade market that usually happens at the same time,” said general manager Kelly McCrimmon, adding that the Golden Knights will go with the tandem of Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit.
Brossoit missed camp with his own injury, and Vegas acquired Adin Hill from San Jose as insurance. It’s a bit of a risk to roll with Thompson and his 20 games of NHL experience, but the front office likes a lot about the 25-year-old.
“He made a good impression in a short sample at the end of last season,” McCrimmon said. “We are excited and intrigued by his talent, his upside, his competitiveness.”
From a trip to the Western Conference final that was a roller-coaster ride in goaltending, the Oilers had to do something with 40-year-old Mike Smith injured and not expected to play. They added the well-traveled Jack Campbell, who had one very good and one not-so-good postseason with Toronto.
“Obviously, Campbell helped a lot,” Edmonton captain Connor McDavid said. “Not to say I think goal scoring is an issue, but obviously a little bit stronger for the long term which I think is always a good thing.”
Campbell is the Oilers’ long-term goalie after signing for $25 million over five years, backed by Stuart Skinner.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
After a fifth straight loss in their opening playoff series, the Maple Leafs have recovered most from 60-goal scorer and Hart Trophy winner Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to captain John Tavares and William Nylander.
But GM Kyle Dubas scraped things in the net by letting Campbell leave in free agency, trading Petr Mrazek to Chicago, acquiring Matt Murray from Ottawa and signing Washington castoff Ilya Samsonov. Murray, who backed Pittsburgh to back-to-back titles in 2016 and ’17, is looking to get his career back on track after a rocky stint with the Senators.
“Whoever we bring in is going to be a good goalie,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “We are a good team and we have high expectations for ourselves and Murr is exactly that. Two Cups and the experience of playing on a team in Pittsburgh that is very good, he is a great addition.
During their busy offseason, the Senators moved on from Murray and replaced him by getting Cam Talbot from Minnesota after the Wild opted not to bring him back with Marc-Andre Fleury. This seems to be the last real piece Ottawa has to contend with after getting winger Alex DeBrincat and signing veteran forward Claude Giroux.
“It builds all the hype and excitement for the season,” captain Brady Tkachuk said.
That excitement took a hit when Talbot was injured during the preseason. He is expected to miss at least the first month of the season, leaving the net to Anton Forsberg and waiver pickup Magnus Hellberg.
With Devon Levi electing to spend one more year at Northeastern and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen still needing time to develop in the minors after several injury-shortened seasons, the Sabers filled the their goal needs by signing Eric Comrie in free agency and convincing 41-year-old Craig Anderson to hold off on retirement for at least one more season.
The 27-year-old Comrie’ has 28 NHL appearances, including a career-high 19 backing up Connor Hellebuyck in Winnipeg last year.
“We really feel the body of work he’s put in, the age he’s at, when you put it all together, we feel he’s at a position in his career where he’s ready to take the next step,” Sabers GM Kevyn said. Adams. “Now he has to go get that and prove that.”
Long removed from winning the Cup three times in six years, the Blackhawks are looking for a long-term rebuild.
Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia are gone, replaced by Mrazek and Alex Stalock. Chicago was happy to upgrade from a second-round pick to a first by acquiring Mrazek’s contract from the Leafs.
“We need a goalie, and Petr had a tough year, but we think he’s an NHL-caliber goalie,” GM Kyle Davidson said. “We’ve got a guy who can come in and give us a solid start in the NHL and a quality start in the NHL.”
AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York, contributed. Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWahno
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