This wasn’t the plan. The Capitals were ready to play the kids – 23-year-old Michal Neuvirth and 21-year-old Braden Holtby – in net.
But then Saturday came, and Tomas Vokoun was available. Turns out, he was available for one year on the cheap. So general manager George McPhee took the opportunity to make the Caps better right now, signing Vokoun to a contract worth just $1.5 million.
“We were certainly willing to play our top young goaltenders, but I think people will agree this addition makes us deep again at the most important position in the game,” McPhee said Sunday on a conference call. “We love what we have in Holtby and we certainly love what we have in Neuvirth, but from an organizational standpoint, we’re all better off having this depth.”
Depth, the Caps certainly have that now. The 35-year-old Vokoun has started at least 57 games per season in each of the past four with the Panthers. Vokoun was not guaranteed being the starter, but McPhee hinted that he’s in the driver’s seat.
“Certainly his experience would put [Vokoun] in that position, but like anything else they come in and they compete,” McPhee said.
As for Holtby, McPhee said he’ll go back to Hershey because his status isn’t any different than three days ago, before the Caps traded Semyon Varlamov to Colorado.
“Sometimes overcooking them is a little better than exposing them too early,” McPhee said.
He’ll get a chance to work with Olie Kolzig, and Holtby will also obviously get the call if anything happens to Vokoun or Neuvirth.
But the bottom line is, with Vokoun available, the Caps couldn’t pass him up.
“I guess we got lucky because he wanted to go to a team that has a chance to win a Cup,” McPhee said.