HERSHEY, PA – The Washington Capitals announced via press release today that they have re-signed goaltender Pheonix Copley to a two-year deal. While fans in Hershey couldn’t be happier, it appears as though they will only have one year left to watch the North Pole, Alaska native on Giant Center ice. It also leaves fans with more questions than answers.
Copley’s deal is a two-year, 1.3 million dollar contract. It is a two-way deal for the first year and a one-way deal for the second year. That is indicative of a change coming to Washington in year two.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) June 28, 2017
Originally in Hershey during the 2014-2015 season, Copley was part of the Oshie trade that sent him to the St. Louis Blues/Chicago Wolves until he returned in the Shattenkirk trade this season. During that time, he appeared in two games for the Blues recording 0 wins and 1 loss.
Bears fans were certainly happy to see Copley return to Giant Center as the net minder became the #1 goalie with Vitek Vanecek as the back-up. In fact, Hershey, counted out of the playoffs several times this season, mounted a strong comeback and earned the #3 seed in the Atlantic Division and eliminated in-state rival and #2 seed, Lehigh Valley.
Copley’s return did not end as planned as he suffered what was termed a lower body injury against Providence and did not return before the Bears bowed out to the P-Bruins.
With Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer presumably shoring up the spots on the Caps’ roster this season and Copley and Vanecek doing the same in Hershey, that leaves the spots in South Carolina up for grabs – this season. Since Copley’s contract is a one-way deal the following season, that means Grubauer is more than likely departing. With Ilya Samsonov set to arrive in North America after next season, it seems that the organization has shored up its goaltender spot for the foreseeable future.
The bigger question is “Where does this leaves Grubauer?”. Obviously he got his offer from the Capitals, but this news is sure to leave him with more questions than answers. Many believe trading him this year would allow the organization to get that much-needed #4 defenseman, but the timetable just doesn’t seem to work out. Additionally, Copley is not a proven NHL commodity, so while Holtby shoulders most of the workload, are the Caps willing to roll the dice this year? Hopefully things become a bit clearer soon.
Get Acquainted with Copley
By Julie Beidler