After round one of the 2022 NHL Draft, General Manager Kyle Dubas addressed the media to discuss moving Petr Mrazek and the 25th overall draft pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 38th overall draft selection.
Can you take us through how you view the goaltending decision in front of you now and why you elected to trade Petr Mrazek versus keeping him?
Dubas: I think the decision was that we wanted to have the most flexibility possible going into next week. Also — just in gathering the information here throughout the week — it’s not only as we go into next week [with free agency], but with the different trades that are available in the trade market. We just wanted to make ourselves as flexible as possible, create the cap space for ourselves, and proceed. That is what we were able to do tonight.
Obviously, you don’t want to move back in the draft, but our analysis was it was that it was a good move versus what we were asking a team to do. That is what we did.
How would you describe the options in free agency in regards to goaltending?
Dubas: Discussing free agency a week out is a good way to get me in trouble. I look forward to discussing them next week live with everybody.
You guys had faith in Petr Mrazek signing him to the three-year deal. Why didn’t it work out?
Dubas: Goaltending can be so variable year to year. That said, he got injured in the first game and came back from that injury. We tried to be patient with him and told him to be patient. He got hurt in the second game that he played and was out for quite a while. He just couldn’t get on track from there. After the trade deadline, it looked like he was getting on track and he got injured again.
I think injury derailed it more than anything. It is tough for a goaltender to get — especially in a new place, city, and team — their legs under them when injury is sort of prevailing. If we look back on it, that would probably be the key.
Obviously, we hope every signing we make is going to work out optimally, but not all of them do or have.
Now that you have more cap space, are you going to take another run at signing Jack Campbell?
Dubas: With the cap space we have now, every option is available to us now, whether that is Jack, or the others later next week, or via trade. I think it opens up a lot for us. We see with the trades and signings today that the number of chairs is starting to go by the wayside. Our situation would be enticing for any goaltender. We will see how tomorrow plays out relative to trade.
Obviously, we know Jack well. He has been a part of our program. We will stay in touch with him, meet with him when I get back from Toronto, and roll from there.
The goalies that you do have under contract — where do you see them fitting in?
Dubas: Erik Kallgren came in when we needed him most in a high-pressure situation and performed extraordinarily well for us. We obviously like Erik. Joe Woll is coming off of injury, but he performed well during the year last year as well.
That is where we are at at the moment. We have a lot of opportunity there. It should be an interesting option for any goaltender that is looking.
Do you have to go out and acquire a true number one, or are you okay if you see a tandem situation come out of it?
Dubas: Like every team, we would love to have the definitive number one, but our goal would be to have the best tandem we possibly can. That is what we are looking to do. Even if one were to be regarded as a definitive number one, having the insurance there…
We feel like we have the younger guys coming in Kallgren and Woll and then the two Russian prospects we picked in the subsequent drafts; plus, we have what we feel is a good collection of guys on AHL deals in Dryden McKay, Luke Cavallin, and Keith Petruzzelli.
We are pretty excited about where we are going with that; it is just going to take time. We just have to be patient and develop them properly versus rushing them in.
Do you still feel you need two new goalies then as your approach?
Dubas: I think I feel good about Kallgren and Woll battling there as well. That gives me confidence that the focus will certainly be on one. We will see what our cap situation is from there and then proceed.
How long was the trade bubbling around?
Dubas: This has been a discussion ongoing and really picked up yesterday and into today with Kyle Davidson.
Did it happen because your guy wasn’t there at 25?
Dubas: There were a number of players that we would’ve liked to have been there, but once they came off and we knew what the options were, we decided to make the move, yeah.
Do you think there will be a similar player available at 38?
Dubas: Part of the process of going through it with Wes was — is there a large enough collection of players where we felt that if we moved the 13 spots, could we get someone that is in that next range? That is what we felt. We feel good about that now, especially now that the picks have come off the board between 25 and 32.
It is a big ask of the amateur scouting staff. They pour a lot into it. We don’t like to do that. I didn’t want to move anything outright, so moving back was the best option. You can see Edmonton did the same after we did.