Apparently Washington Capitals GM George McPhee does not believe in taking a holiday weekend. Similar to the San Jose Sharks, who have been very busy this weekend, Washington continues to shake up their roster. On Saturday afternoon, the club signed veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun to a one year contract worth about $1.5 million. This is a huge pay cut from his $6 million salary last season. The Caps have picked him up on clearance because of Vokoun’s apparent interest in playing on a winning team. At his age, who can blame him? He wants a chance to win the Cup.
Last season Vokoun produced 2.55 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in 57 games with the Florida Panthers. It marked the third-straight season he has registered a save percentage of .920 or higher. He also finished the season ranked sixth in the league in shutouts with six. Caps fans should be pretty familiar with Vokoun given his play in the Southeast division for a number of years. Considering the talent and goal support in Florida, most hockey minds expect the Caps to be very formidable and put the offense to be very formidable with Vokoun in net.
On a side note this is a great opportunity for Michal Neuvirth. Both Neuvirth and Vokoun are Czech and the latter is reported to have an inspirational type of work ethic. Braden Holtby will still be called up form time to time, especially in the case of an injury, but also he can now focus one more year on his game in Hershey, where he will get boat loads of playing time. McPhee described the situation in net as , “talent, youth, experience and depth”. It’s hard to argue that the Cpas made a mistake given the price they got Vokoun at.
One thing that does concern many Capitals fans, is the current expenditures of the Caps in relation to the cap. Washington now has just under $1 million left to work with. In his blog Majority Owner Ted Leonsis said,”“We will be able to resign Karl Alzner and Troy Brouwer so everyone who is amped up, please try to relax just a bit . We will look to make some trades in the offseason maybe even sign another free agent. We will continue to look at all of our options. We may not be able to get anything done. We may be able to do something. Time will tell.”
How they plan to resign both Brouwer and Alzner remains a mystery. One can only assume that another trade is in the works. Alexander Semin has the kind of salary to pave the way for a deal but Washington has been ill to part with the Russian sniper. A very plausible option could be winger Eric Fehr. At 2.2 million, and a game similar but not as developed as Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, the impact of Fehr’s departure could be minimized. He also has had trouble staying healthy. With a lot of potential still, lower-tier teams that lack goal scorers could be interested.
All in all the Caps made another brilliant move picking up Vokoun. If they can minimize their asset losses over the summer and re sign Alzner and Brouwer, the Caps will be very dangerous in 2011-12, perhaps finally making good on their enormous promise.