By Jack Anderson
The past several weeks, George McPhee made it perfectly clear he was not going to add a veteran goalie to the mix in Washington. After he traded away Semyon Varlamov on Friday, McPhee reiterated the team would enter the season with Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth as the Capitals’ top goalies.
But don’t believe everything you hear from the NHL’s consummate poker player.
McPhee pulled off another miraculous goaltending maneuver, signing veteran netminder Tomas Vokoun to a one-year, $1.5 million deal on Saturday. The 35-year old Vokoun, considered one of the top goalies in free agency, made $6.3 million last year with the Florida Panthers and was expected to sign another hefty contract this offseason.
Instead he took a substantial pay cut to play for a contender.
“I’m very excited to join the Washington Capitals organization,” Vokoun said in a press release. “It is a terrific team with a lot of talent and I look forward to doing everything I can for us to reach our ultimate goal in winning the Stanley Cup.”
Vokoun provides the Caps with a veteran presence they didn’t have last year when alternating between Varlamov, Neuvirth and Holtby. In 2010-11, he played in 57 games with 22 wins, a .922 save percentage and a GAA of 2.55.
“We are excited to add an elite veteran goaltender to the Capitals,” said McPhee. “We now have a nice blend of talent, depth, experience and youth in the goaltending position.”
Vokoun’s addition comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that Varlamov was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for first and second round picks. After a lengthy contract stand-off, it appeared the Capitals would receive little, if any, compensation for Varlamov yet McPhee managed to ship him to the Rockies for far more than anyone anticipated.
Vokoun’s role will likely be addressed in the coming days, but for now speculation abounds as to whether he or Neuvirth will serve as the team’s number one goalie.
The signing leaves the Capitals with $544,872 in cap space according to Capgeek.com. McPhee has extended offers to restricted free agents Troy Brouwer and Karl Alzner and will have to make room for them by October.
Washington can exceed the cap limit by 10 percent until the start of the season.