Dozens of young hockey players realized a dream Friday.
A number of NHL general managers, meanwhile, continued to navigate an uncertain goalie market with free agency set to open next week.
Day 2 of the league’s first in-person draft since 2019 saw the crease situation crystalize for some teams.
But a lot remains up in the air.
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The Detroit Red Wings got things started when they acquired Ville Husso from the St. Louis Blues for the 73rd pick before signing the pending unrestricted free agent to a three-year contract extension.
The New Jersey Devils then got into the action shortly thereafter when they snagged Vitek Vanecek from the Washington Capitals for two picks — No. 37 and No. 70.
“We’ve been trying to change our goaltending up a little bit,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said.
“This is the first step in doing that.”
Those trades came after a series of moves on the crease front before and during Thursday’s first round.
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The Minnesota Wild re-signed Marc-Andre Fleury to a two-year extension worth US$7 million, while the Colorado Avalanche acquired goaltender Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers for three picks.
The Toronto Maple Leafs got in on the action, dumping the underperforming Petr Mrazek’s $3.8-million cap hit on the Chicago Blackhawks in a swap of picks that saw Toronto move back from No. 25 to No. 38.
The Edmonton Oilers also made a deal with an eye towards their goaltending by trading winger Zack Kassian and his $3.2-million cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes.
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Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell and Darcy Kuemper of the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche are the two biggest names on the UFA netminding board with the shrinking free-agent market poised to open Wednesday.
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“A couple years ago it was flipped,” Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “There wasn’t enough teams for all the goalies that were available.
“With goaltenders, there’s probably only a few sure things out there. And that’s what makes this position hard to play because of the ups and downs and trying to stay even-keel, but you have to have depth.”
Toronto, Edmonton and Washington sit as the teams most in need of crease clarity.
“It’s an exciting and anxious time,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said.
Toronto GM Kyle Dubas said having all the clubs back in one spot on the floor of the Bell Center after two virtual drafts because of the COVID-19 pandemic was helpful in terms of gauging the market.
“Where it’s going and who’s available, what the cost is going to be in trade,” he said. “Now we’ll work through our own situation with Jack, and then if it gets to that point, we’ll work through the situation with the remaining free agents. That’s where we’re at now. We like the options that we have available.
“That still remains the key for us.”
The dealing continued as Friday rolled a long, and not just with goalies.
The Philadelphia Flyers acquired defenseman Tony DeAngelo and a seventh-round pick from Carolina for the Flyers’ fourth-round pick, plus a conditional third-round pick in 2023 and a second-round pick in 2024. The Flyers then announced the pending restricted free agent had signed a two-year extension.
The San Jose Sharks traded Luke Kunin to the Nashville Predators for fellow winger John Leonard and a third-rounder next year.
The host Montreal Canadiens took Slovak winger Juraj Slafkovsky with the first pick to open Thursday’s electric first round in their home rink on a night that saw Shane Wright — long thought to be the presumptive top selection — fall to the Seattle Kraken at No. 4.
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The Canadiens kicked off Friday’s second round by selecting Owen Beck, a center from the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads.
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Montreal then drafted defenseman Lane Hutson (62nd), center Vinzenz Rohrer (75th), blue-liner Adam Engstrom (92nd), winger Cedrick Guindon (127th), center Jared Davidson (130th) and goaltender Emmett Croteau (162nd), as well as defensemen Petteri Nurmi (194th) and Miguel Tourigny (216th).
The Leafs made their first pick of the draft at No. 38 when they took center Fraser Minten of the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers with the selection acquired in the Mrazek trade.
Toronto also drafted winger Nicholas Moldenhauer (95th), goaltender Dennis Hildeby, forward Nikita Grebenkin (135th) and winger Brandon Lisowsky (218th).
The Winnipeg Jets took Swedish defenseman Elias Salomonsson (55th), center Danil Zhilkin (77th), blue-liner Garrett Brown (99th), center Fabian Wagner (175th) and goaltender Domenic Divincentiis (207th).
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The Canucks turned heads when they picked Elias Pettersson at No. 80 _ mostly because the Swedish defenseman has the same name as Vancouver’s star center selected in the first round back in 2017.
The club also got center Daimon Gardner (112th), goaltender Ty Young (144th), and defensemen Jackson Dorrington (176th) and Kirill Kudryavtsev (208th.)
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The Edmonton Oilers didn’t have a pick Friday until the fifth round, taking goaltender Samuel Johnsson at No. 158, defenseman Nikita Yevseyev (190th) and center Joel Maatta (222nd).
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The Calgary Flames, who didn’t have a first-rounder, made their first selection at No. 59 when the selected Finnish center Topi Ronni before securing winger Parker Bell (155th) and center Cade Littler (219th).
The Ottawa Senators originally had the No. 7 selection, but packaged it along with two other picks Thursday to acquire winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago.
They drafted Swedish defenseman Filip Nordberg at No. 64 before also grabbing winger Oskar Pettersson (72nd), blue-liner Tomas Harma (87th), center Stephen Halliday (104th), defenseman Jorian Donovan (136th), winger Cameron O’Neill (143rd ), goaltender Kevin Reidler (151th), defenseman Theo Wallberg (168th) and center Tyson Dyck (206th).
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