The New Jersey Devils kicked off their Tuesday morning by solidifying their depth in net, agreeing to terms with goaltender Vitek Vanecek on a three-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $3.4 million.
The deal, which now ties Vanecek to New Jersey through the 2024-25 season, makes efforts to ensure the Devils have a backup plan in case they endure another disastrous run of injury luck like last season.
Acquired two weeks ago on the second day of the draft, Vanecek enters a Devils goaltending battle that is seemingly wide open.
The 26-year-old split the Capitals' net with Ilya Samsonov last season and produced the more favorable results of the two, finishing the 2021-22 campaign with a 20-12-6 record and four shutouts to go with .908 save percentage and 0.9 goals-saved-above-average.
There is clearly some risk with Vanecek, of course.
The Czechia native has yet to be a starter full-time at the NHL level, has only 79 games of big league experience under his belt entirely to this point, and hasn't exactly grabbed a starters job in the brief time he's held one in Washington.
But Vanecek has some intriguing tools that the Devils clearly like and compelled them to lock him in for the foreseeable future. He's intriguing. And after the absolute debacle that unfolded within New Jersey's goaltending ranks last season, during which injuries forced them to recall two early-20s prospects well before they were ready, some stability is sorely needed -- especially given Mackenzie Blackwood's erratic performance.