The Capitals made it clear that their main focus this offseason would be to lock up their restricted free agents to new contracts and they made it a priority to re-sign right wing T.J. Oshie. One of those RFAs was goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who the team had the potential to lose in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. With Grubauer staying put after the Vegas Golden Knights selected fellow RFA Nate Schmidt, the Caps’ focus turned to re-signing the reliable backup. They did just that today by signing him to a one year deal for $1.5 million.
Since making his debut during the 2013-14 season, Grubauer has been one of the best backups in the NHL. While he has played just 66 games in his career, the former fourth-round pick (112th overall in 2010) has gone a respectable 28-21-8, with a solid 2.25 goals-against average, and .923 save percentage. Over the last two seasons as the backup to starter Braden Holtby, Grubauer has gone an impressive 21-15-3, with a goals-against average of 2.17, and save percentage of .922, to go along with three shutouts.
Grubauer performed exceptionally well last season, playing in a career-high 24 games, while winning a career-high 13 games, recording a 2.04 goals-against average (also a career best), and .926 save percentage (also a career best). His quality start percentage was a solid 68.4. He missed out on co-winning the William M. Jennings Trophy (given to the goalie(s) of the team who allows the fewest goals against) by just one game.
With the Capitals re-signing young goaltender Pheonix Copley to a two-year contract, it’s likely an indication that they see him as a future backup to Holtby, meaning Grubauer, who has proven himself worthy of being a starter, may not be in the long-term plans of the team. However, given that the Hershey Bears had no goalies with much professional experience (the other option being 21-year old Vitek Vanacek), it could be just a signing to give the Bears an experienced netminder.
Capitals media release can be read here:
By Michael Fleetwood