This summer’s goalie market was expected to be a fluid one, and there’s already been significant movement.
So where does Philipp Grubauer fit in all this?
Grubauer, 25, has served as Braden Holtby‘s capable backup in Washington for the last two years. He’s coming off an excellent campaign — 13-6-2, .926 save percentage, 2.05 GAA — and sounds like he’s ready to make the next step in his career.
“I would like to stay here; Washington is awesome and the whole organization’s been awesome the last couple of years,” Grubauer said, per the Post. “But I’m ready if the opportunity comes to make the next step and try to be a starting goalie somewhere.”
It’s been speculated the German ‘tender could be Vegas bound.
Golden Knights GM George McPhee was the boss in Washington when it took Grubauer in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. What’s more, McPhee hired former Caps goalie coach, Dave Prior, to oversee things in Vegas.
Prior has spoken highly of his former pupil.
“Philipp does things effortlessly,” Prior said, per the Washington Post. “That’s the talent that not everybody is lucky enough to be equipped with. He also stays between the puck and the net instinctively.”
Grubauer ticks several boxes for Vegas. He’s young and projects to be affordable (a restricted free agent, coming off a $750,000 cap hit).
But that means there could be other suitors as well.
Calgary has a void in goal, with both Chad Johnson and Brian Eliott as unrestricted free agents. Philly is still searching for someone to work in tandem with Michal Neuvirth. Winnipeg is looking to add something in goal, too.
The big question will be how much teams are willing to commit to Grubauer, who has just 66 career NHL appearances. It’s a small sample size, though clubs are probably willing to take the risk in the hopes of landing the next Cam Talbot. That’s clearly what Carolina is banking on following the Scott Darling acquisition.
As for the Caps, they do have some options in reserve. Vitek Vanecek, the 39th overall pick in 2014, is only 21 years old but showed well for AHL Hershey this year. Pheonix Copley, acquired from St. Louis in the Kevin Shattenirk trade, is older (25) but it’s unclear if the organization sees him as a capable NHL backup.