When the Washington Capitals landed Tomas Vokoun for the jaw-dropping discount price of a one-year, $1.5 million contract, I couldn’t help but wonder: how exactly did that happen? Where were the rest of the NHL’s GMs? (Apparently I wasn’t alone.)
Maybe you could look at it as Vokoun’s loss being the Capitals’ gain, but it was just baffling that there was such a dearth of interest in a goalie whose numbers consistently ranked among the best. Could it be that the rest of the NHL’s GMs took John Buccigross’ … less than scientific approach toward the steady Czech goalie’s game?
Perhaps there were indeed some general managers who somehow questioned a goalie who routinely put up fantastic individual numbers (but didn’t have the guts to also score goals or do whatever it was that critics thoughts he was missing) on sub-par teams. That being said, it wasn’t as simple as Washington being the only team that was interested in Vokoun’s services.
Japer’s Rink did some digging and with the help of Google translator, unearthed an interesting gem: the race for Vokoun actually came down to Washington and the Detroit Red Wings. (Gee, things went pretty well the last time the Red Wings nabbed an aging Czech goalie who racked up high save percentage numbers, didn’t they?)
As it turns out, Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski pointed out a pretty good reason why it didn’t work out between Vokoun and the Red Wings: his name is Jimmy Howard. While Washington has a strong future in net with Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, it’s far from outrageous to put their young goalies on hold for a season or so – a plan Bruce Boudreau laid out on Monday. That would have been a much stickier proposition in Detroit, where 27-year-old Howard’s future is now.
Still, it’s an interesting thought: how strong would Nicklas Lidstrom’s (possible) last run in Detroit look with Vokoun cleaning up the Red Wings’ mistakes? Sports have plenty of great “What if?” moments and that question might register with many hockey fans if Vokoun works out as well in Washington as many expect.