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Sens sign Korpisalo!
The Senators have addressed their biggest concern of the offseason by signing goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to a 5 year $20 million contract. Korpisalo is coming off one of the best seasons of his career which he split between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the LA Kings. The contract has received mixed opinions from analysts and Senators fans some of whom are concerned with the 5-year term.
In this article, I will share why I am not as concerned as others regarding the contract.
Korpisalo’s Past Season
Korpisalo played 39 games this season at the NHL level which is the most since his rookie season in 2015-2016. In these games, he put up stellar numbers on a very weak Columbus Blue Jackets team, as well as an elite Kings team.
39 Games Played – .914 SV% – 2.67 GAA – 16.72 GSAx – 1 Shutout
The biggest standout of these numbers is Korpisalo’s 16.72 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected). This ranked him 11th in the NHL one spot ahead of Star Jake Oettinger. If he can maintain these types of results for the Senators, this contract will look like an absolute steal. In the playoffs this season, he struggled against the juggernaut offense of the Oilers. However, this does not raise much of a concern with me as it may with others.
Korpisalo’s Playoff Elevation
Throughout his career, Korpisalo has often been an elite playoff performer. Look no further than his “bubble” run with Columbus in the 2019-2020 season. He recorded absurd numbers during this run with a .941 SV%, a 1.90 GAA, and 2 shutouts in 9 games. Korpisalo did everything he possibly could to carry the Jackets, however, they ultimately fell short.
Given the goaltender has played behind Bobrovsky for much of his career he does not have a large amount of NHL playoff experience. However, in Finland, his results also speak for themselves. At the U20 level in Finland, he recorded a .926 SV% and a 1.77 GAA in 4 games. In the Liiga, he recorded a .951 SV% and a 1.24 GAA in 2 games.
While the sample size is small in the NHL, I am confident in giving him the benefit of the doubt as a playoff performer.
Is The Contract Too Risky
The biggest question with the contract is, of course, if the contract is too much of a risk. To put it simply, yes the contract is a risk because of his injury history. With that being said, I like the leap of faith that Dorion has taken in signing the Finnish goaltender.
The reality of being a small market team is that you often have to offer something to free agents that bigger markets aren’t willing to match. With this deal, Dorion offered more term than I am sure most teams were willing to offer.
One thing to keep in mind is that the salary cap is bound to increase within the next few years. Projections have shown that it could rise as much as $10 million within 3 years. If this is the case, Korpisalo’s contract will not raise any eyebrows for being an “overpay” or too risky unless his performance falls off of a cliff.
Given the state the Ottawa Senators are in, failure to make the playoffs is not an option and Dorion addressed the biggest need for the team. As a guy who has shown he can be an elite goaltender, I am willing to bet that the $4 million cap hit over 5 years will not have overwhelmingly negative effects on the Senators.