NHL free agency 2023: Senators sign Joonas Korpisalo to 5-year, $20 million contract

The Senators are betting on Joonas Korpisalo to solve their problems between the pipes.

Mar 25, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) defends the goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the first period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators have found their starting goaltender, signing Joonas Korpisalo to a five-year contract worth $20 million.

Korpisalo will be paid $4 million in 2023-24, $5 million in 2024-25, $4.5 million in 2025-26, $3.5 million in 2026-27 and $3 million in 2027-28, the Senators announced.

The 29-year-old was quietly excellent during the 2022-23 campaign, split between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings. He finished 11th in goals saved above expected during the regular season via MoneyPuck, while playing 28 games on an abysmal Blue Jackets team.

Los Angeles took note of Korpisalo’s stellar season while trying to accelerate its timeline towards Stanley Cup contention, so it acquired him and blueliner Vladislav Gavrikov at the deadline in exchange for Jonathan Quick, a conditional 2023 first-round pick (later traded to Philadelphia, used on Oliver Bonk with the 22nd pick) and a 2024 third-round selection. Korpisalo’s quality of play declined during the postseason, posting a .892 save percentage as the Kings were eliminated in the first round by the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s a calculated risk for the Senators, who are looking for an immediate upgrade between the pipes after running a platoon during the 2022-23 season, primarily consisting of Cam Talbot and Anton Forsberg. Korpisalo is coming off the best season of his career and the average annual value is reasonable, but will he be able to sustain this form over the course of a five-year term?

Korpisalo will be in his mid-30s when his new contract expires, so the Senators are betting that he will continue to improve in the latter stages of his prime, before the deal becomes untenable towards the final two years.