NHL: Vitek Vanecek set to battle for Devils job, Andrej Sekera retires, and more

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Restricted free agent goaltender Vitek Vanecek signed a three-year, $10.2 million contract extension with the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

Per the team, Vanecek will receive $3.55 million in 2022-23, $3.75 million the following season and $2.9 million in 2024-25.

Vanecek, who avoided a salary arbitration hearing, was acquired by New Jersey in a trade with the Washington Capitals on July 8. The Devils also received a second-round pick (46th overall) in the 2022 NHL Draft, with the Capitals receiving the 37th and 70th picks in exchange.

Devils sign Vitek Vanecek

New Jersey used a franchise-record seven goaltenders en route to finishing in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division last season.

“That was our goal from the get-go was to add to the position because of the circumstance with injuries and really depleting our depth, to be frank,” Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said on July 8. “We don’t want to go through that again. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. However, it’s been a goal from the get-go and there are options and options get limited, so then you’re trying to find really what’s best and you got to put your best foot forward and make a deal for a guy, and we’re fortunate to land Vitek this morning.”

Vanecek, 26, was 20-12-6 with four shutouts, a 2.67 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 42 games (39 starts) with Washington in 2021-22.

A second-round pick by the Capitals in 2014, the Czech Republic native owns a 41-22-10 career record with six shutouts, a 2.68 GAA and a .908 save percentage.

Vanecek will battle Mackenzie Blackwood for the starting goaltender job.

“I had it same thing in Washington,” the 26-year-old said, “Oh, it’s (a) battle every single game you know, it’s a little bit pressure on us, because you have to play every game, good game (…) every single game you have to give the team the best, you know. And show the coaches, or GM you have to show your best, and then who will be better… that guy will play No. 1.”


Andrej Sekera retires

andrej sekera
Apr 2, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera (5) reaches for the puck against San Jose Sharks center Nick Bonino (13) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Unrestricted free agent defenseman Andrej Sekera has played his last game in the NHL.

“My hockey career is over,” Sekera told Slovakian newspaper SME. “I’ve had some offers as a free agent, but still I decided to quit. A big reason was my son had had some medical issues during the last year. After everything we went through, I realized the best would be if I devoted more time to my family. I thought maybe it would turn around somehow, but that did not happen.”

Sekera, 36, recorded four points (one goal, three assists) in 32 games with the Dallas Stars last season.

He has totaled 253 points (51 goals, 202 assists) in 842 career games with the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes and Stars. He was selected by the Sabres in the third round of the 2004 NHL Draft.

Mark Messier re-opens his camp

Six-time Stanley Cup Champion and Hockey Hall of Fame center, Mark Messier was all smiles as he re-opened his youth hockey camp.

“We’re so excited to be back,” Messier said. “To see the kids back at that rink and having a good time. Covid took a bite out of all us.”

In a segment run by WTNH News in Connecticut, Messier talked about the camp, ESPN, and the New York Rangers. Check it out below.

–Field Level Media