When the Washington Capitals signed veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun to a one-year, $1.5 million contract, it was viewed to be one of the savviest moves of the summer. Caps GM George McPhee got something the Capitals never truly had in their recent years in trying to win the Stanley Cup: A proven #1 goalie.
With Vokoun joining Michal Neuvirth, last year’s top goalie in Washington, there were some fans that thought, maybe, that Vokoun was coming to Washington to wear a ball cap on the bench and mentor Neuvirth while he started games. Apparently some Caps fans are hard to impress these days. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, thankfully, is a bit more level-headed in his thoughts on Vokoun and what he can bring to the table in Washington.
Katie Carrera of Capitals Insider gets Boudreau’s take on what Vokoun will do as a Capital.
Bringing in the veteran Vokoun certainly changes the plan in terms of a workload for the goaltenders throughout the organization. When asked if Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth would have a genuine compeition for the top spot in Washington, though, Boudreau said the 35-year-old Czech’s experience all but pencils him into that role at this stage.
“We’re always going to play who we think is the best,” Boudreau said. “But if you’re looking at a guy that’s had the experience and done everything and if they’re a No. 1 goalie… You’ve got to give Vokoun the respect that he’s coming in and he’s going to be the No. 1 guy. We’ll see where it goes from there.”
Here’s how it’ll go from there: Vokoun will start, Neuvirth will back him up and learn a lot from his fellow Czech countryman. Suggesting otherwise means either your Caps-tinted glasses need a thorough cleaning or you’re a fan of a rival team hoping to sink the Caps chances before the season even starts.
While Vokoun has seen a steady workload in his years with Florida, coming to Washington where Neuvirth serves as a more than capable backup gives the Caps one of the better goalie tandems in the NHL. Neuvirth was no slouch in his first season in D.C. and having him able to avoid a potential sophomore slump while continuing to improve his game learning from one of the best is a great thing. After all, you can’t expect that Vokoun will stick around for another year in Washington after this year and with Braden Holtby getting to get his game honed in the AHL full time, the Caps are more than set in goal for the future.
Winning the Stanley Cup now, however, is their priority and Vokoun brings them closer to doing that than their young duo would have.