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Capitals sign goalie Logan Thompson and trade Beck Malenstyn

LAS VEGAS — Logan Thompson woke up Saturday to a phone call from Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon telling him he had been traded to the Washington Capitals. An hour later, the goalie was signing autographs on the main concourse of the Sphere for a crowd of mostly Golden Knights fans saying goodbye to a player who had spent much of the last four years here. Thompson said he never considered skipping the session.

“I’ve never been traded, in junior or professional leagues,” he said after an hour of greeting fans. “A lot of emotions are still going through me. It’s going to take a couple of days to process. The only thing I know in the NHL is the Golden Knights, so it’s going to be different. … It’s cool to just come out and sign some stuff and say hello and goodbye to people.”

The Capitals traded the No. 83 pick in the draft – a third-round selection – and a 2025 third-round pick to Vegas to get Thompson, a 27-year-old who began his professional career in Washington’s organization five years ago. Thompson, who came out of the Canadian college system, played his first professional season in 2019-20 for the South Carolina Stingrays, the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate.

Five years later, Thompson is back with Washington. After trading Darcy Kuemper to the Los Angeles Kings earlier this month, the Capitals were looking for a veteran goalie to partner Charlie Lindgren, the 30-year-old expected to be a starter in the 2024-25 season. General manager Brian MacLellan said Wednesday he expected Hunter Shepard and Clay Stevenson to play in the NHL this year, but it was clear Washington needed another goalie to complete its roster.

“It was an opportunity to get a good goalkeeper with potential,” MacLellan said Saturday. “We needed to bring in reinforcements. We’re going to need four goalkeepers; after the transfer we only had three. We see him as a potential player who will improve and see what happens with him in the future.”

Thompson posted a 2.70 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage last season. His salary cap hit for 2024-25 is just $766,667, while Lindgren’s is $1.1 million, putting the total salary for Washington’s goalie duo under $2 million. Both are entering the final year of their contracts, and both could become unrestricted free agents.

Minutes before the start of the second round of the draft, the Capitals traded forward Beck Malenstyn to Buffalo for the Sabres’ 2024 second-round pick, number 43. Washington used that pick to recruit Cole Hutson from the U.S. national team’s development program; Hutson set a program record for a defenseman with 119 points in his two seasons.

Malenstyn, who is set to become a restricted free agent, will receive a significant raise from his $762,500 salary cap hit and the Capitals believe they have internal candidates for his fourth-line position. Defense is the weakest area in Washington’s pipeline and the signing of Hutson has given that group a boost.

“We didn’t want to trade Beck,” MacLellan said. “We like what he’s done. We drafted him. He’s been a big part of the success of our organization in Hershey and had a good year last year. I just think we were hoping for a chance to get a D in that pick – and we ended up getting a D – that was our hope in that move.”

Nine picks later, they selected defenseman Leon Muggli from the Swiss top league. Hutson is an offensive star, the kind of player the Capitals see as a quarterback on the power play one day, and Muggli sees himself as more of a two-way player with an emphasis on defense.

Washington rounded out its draft with forward Ilya Protas – the younger brother of Aliaksei Protas – at No. 75, forward Eriks Mateiko at No. 90, goaltender Nicholas Kempf at No. 114, forward Petr Sikora at No. 178 and forward Miroslav Satan, the son of the former NHL player of the same name, at No. 212. The Capitals picked winger Terik Parascak with the No. 17 pick in the first round on Friday.

To draft the younger Protas, Washington traded up seven spots; the New Jersey Devils had pick No. 75. Sitting in the stands with Ilya, Aliaksei had a sense of déjà vu when he heard the trade announcement. In 2019, the Capitals traded up – in the third round, in a deal with New Jersey – to draft him.

“This is a special moment,” Ilya said. “A special day for me and my family. I don’t have the words to explain it. I’m just happy to be in the organization. … I just wanted to be in the same organization as my brother, you know?”

Aliaksei added: “I hoped so. Of course I hoped so. It’s nice to be drafted by a team, but of course you wanted to be together. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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