Philipp Grubauer put together a spectacular 2016-17 season with a 2.26 GAA and .926 save percentage in 24 games. At just 25 years old, his future looks bright as a possible NHL starter...somewhere.
With Braden Holtby under contract until 2020 and prospect Ilya Samsonov expected to be the team’s future in net, Grubauer’s greatest value to the Caps may be as a tradeable asset. At least that’s what TSN thinks.
TSN released its Top 30 Trade Trade Bait board and Grubauer made the list, coming in at No. 14. He was only one of three goalies to make the list.
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You can certainly understand the reasoning. With the expansion draft looming, a goalie projected to be a potential NHL starter would certainly be an attractive target for Vegas. Every team hates losing valuable assets for nothing which is why the Caps could potentially explore making a trade so that they could at least get something for Grubauer.
In a vacuum, this makes complete sense. Here’s why it is unlikely to happen.
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan told the media the Capitals will use the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie in the expansion draft. With John Carlson and Matt Niskanen already under contract for next season and Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt expected to return as restricted free agents, that gives four defensemen the Caps will want to protect. One of those four will have to be left exposed.
Washington will also have a difficult decision to make on offense with a number of valuable forwards worth protecting. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky are no-brainers to protect. That leaves just three slots for Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson, Jay Beagle and possibly T.J. Oshie if the team hopes to re-sign him.
Bottom line is that the Capitals, like every team in the NHL, are going to lose one player to the expansion draft. If Washington trades Grubauer, that means they will lose someone else. If given the choice between losing a top-four defenseman, a productive forward or a backup goalie who likely does not factor into the team’s future, losing Grubauer may actually be a small price to pay.
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