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Wild Idea for the Capitals to Solve Their No Backup Goalie Problem

If the Washington Capitals now don’t have a backup goaltender, is there a solution that’s a bit crazy but might work for the 2020-21 season?

With news that Henrik Lundqvist won’t be playing with the Washington Capitals in 2020-21, Rory Boylen of Sportsnet is writing that the Caps organization now find themselves in the unenviable situation of having to find a backup without many options to choose from.

Related: Henrik Lundqvist Won’t Play For Capitals in 2021 Due to Heart Condition

While the unrestricted free agency market still includes names like Craig Anderson, Ryan Miller, Cory Schneider and Jimmy Howard, those are not wonderful options for a team that is about to ask starter Ilya Samsonov to carry a much bigger load than he ever has before. There is certainly a question as to how many of the potential 56 games Samsonov can handle.

Boylen points out that internally, the options aren’t much better either. The Capitals have 28-year old Pheonix Copley and 24-year old Vitek Vanecek on call, but between the two, they have only 27 games of NHL experience. All of those games go to Copley.

So, What Should Washington Do?

The Capitals may have to go with an internal option for now and hope a trade becomes available. If Samsonov struggles during the season, the Capitals can start to make subtle moves to free up a bit of cap space and then make a bigger splash.

Down the road, teams may look to move goalies if their respective campaigns aren’t going well and a number of potential netminding free agents will become available next offseason.

Tuukka Rask Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask Boston Bruins

That group of pending UFA’s includes names like Tuukka Rask, Antti Raanta, James Reimer, Phillip Grubauer, Jonathan Bernier and Mike Smith. All might be potentially better options than what is available on the market right now.

If a team like the Boston Bruins struggle and there’s a potential feeling that Rask may not want to return next season, he could be a piece the Bruins decide to move. For the Capitals, his cap hit is too high to add him sooner than later, but if his deal is a prorated one that is added to the books at the trade deadline and if the Bruins retain salary in the move, taking something back in return, it’s a move that could work.

Of course, if the Bruins don’t struggle, it’s unlikely they’d consider moving Rask even if he makes it known he won’t be back. That’s when Washington calls a team like Carolina or Arizona.

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