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Korpisalo, Ullmark Signings Add Intrigue To Expansion Draft

Korpisalo, Ullmark Signings Add Intrigue To Expansion Draft

The goaltending position continues to be among the most intriguing aspects of the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft. It remains to be seen whether Vegas Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee will opt for a veteran stable of experienced starters and backups while he and goalie coach Dave Prior develop their own young prospects, or try to pluck a potential #1 from among the young goaltenders that have already been developed in other systems.

Linus Ullmark, seen here in training with the Buffalo Sabres in 2015, just signed a new contract that will take him through 2019. (Photo: Buffalo Sabres)

Should the Knights decide on the latter course, a couple of recent moves involving younger goalies with starter potential may make their financial planning a little easier.

Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo signed a 2-year extension on June 9. The 23-year old will make $700,000 in 2017-18, and $1.1 million in 2018-19. The deal is a one-way contract, so the numbers hold regardless of whether he plays in Vegas or they option him to the AHL Chicago Wolves.

Yesterday, Buffalo signed Linus Ullmark to a 2-year, $1.5 million extension. Ullmark, who will turn 24 in July, will make $700,000 next season, followed by $800,00 in 2018-19, and it appears that the deal is also a one-way contract.

Meanwhile, rumors are also surfacing that Vegas’ young goaltending options may have another name added to the list.

Mrazek is under contract for 2017-18, and is scheduled to earn $4.15 million. Until recently, the young Czech goaltender had been thought to be Detroit’s choice for the future along with Jared Coreau. These rumblings suggest that the Red Wings are instead planning to rely on Jimmy Howard to resume his strong play from early this season, and hope he can stay healthy while newly-crowned Calder Cup champion Coreau continues to develop. Or the Red Wings are just trying to control the message in a market that may covet Howard in the short term as they try to trade a goalie before the expansion draft, something Detroit General Manager hinted at during an interview on Sportsnet 960 Wednesday.

 

“It’s a tough decision because Jimmy’s 33 and Mrazek’s 25 so obviously there’s a big difference,” Holland told the show. “That’s part of the reason I’m working the phones talking to teams out there that might have interest in goalies to see what we might do, or do we just stay as is?”

Howard had been widely presumed to be a strong possibility as a veteran draft target for Vegas, along with Marc-André Fleury, Antti Raanta, and Philipp Grubauer. Vegas also has the option to pursue an unrestricted free agent such as Steve Mason as a potential starter.

However the Knights choose to proceed, the roster reveal on June 21 should lead to plenty of lively discussion and debate.

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