Michal Neuvirth signed a two-year deal with the Washington Capitals worth $5 million, significantly more money than starting goaltender Braden Holtby got with his new contract.
“We talk about it and I don’t feel as a backup,” Neuvirth said. “I feel I’m better than that, and that’s why they offer me more money than the backups in the league.”
The backup will make $2.4 million in 2013-14 and $2.6 million in 2014-15 and will count $2.5 million against the salary cap. Holtby will make $1.7 million next season and $2 million the following season as part of a two-year, $3.7 million deal.
Holtby is just 23 years old, and that’s his second NHL contract. Neuvirth is 25 and on his third deal.
“I knew it was going to happen sooner or later so it’s great to have him back,” said Holtby, who learned of Neuvirth’s contract from reporters. “We’ve been together for a long time and hopefully a long time in the future as well.”
Neuvirth was set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He has only started five of the past 36 games, most recently Thursday night when he stopped 39 of 41 shots against the Ottawa Senators.
“He hasn’t played enough this year, he’s a very good goalie,” coach Adam Oates said. “He’s become kind of a backup just because Holts has played so much and because of what’s happened, but we feel that we need both goalies.”
Neuvirth is 4-5-2 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in limited action this season. The 25-year-old has only appeared in 13 games.
“As a player it’s hard to sit out a couple games and come back and play a good game. And as a goalie it’s at least twice as hard to do that,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It’s amazing the way he’s able to focus himself and just seem like things don’t affect him, which is probably the hardest thing.”
It’s a surprising raise for Neuvirth, who is making $1.15 million this season.
“I feel it’s a fair offer for both sides,” he said.
With Neuvirth re-signed, the Caps have $58.6 million committed to 20 players for next season, according to CapGeek. The cap is $64.3 million and center Mike Ribeiro and forward Matt Hendricks will be unrestricted free agents and forward Marcus Johansson and Alzner will be restricted free agents.