Vitek Vanecek has been named the Washington Capitals starter in goal for tonight’s game against the Sabres. The start will be Vanecek’s first career start in the NHL. Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette made the announcement in his pre-game presser on Friday afternoon.
Vitek Vanecek, 25, is a 6’1”, left-handed netminder who played the last four seasons for the Hershey Bears. The Havlickuv Brod, Czech Republic native was drafted in the second round (#39 overall) by the Capitals in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Tonight, Vitek Vanecek will make his NHL debut, becoming one of 15 goaltenders selected by the Capitals in the NHL Draft to play in the NHL. Vanecek will become the 49th goaltender in franchise history to appear in a game for Washington.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) January 15, 2021
Vanecek was 19-10-1-2 with a 2.26 Goals-Against Average and a .917 Save Percentage with two shutouts in 31 games for the Hershey Bears last season when play was suspended in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2019-2020 Season Summary
Statistics aside, the 2019-2020 season may have been Vanecek’s best season so far. After yielding four goals in his first start of the season, Vanecek played well through the middle of November, before giving up five goals to Providence on November 24th.
Vanecek responded with a shutout and three one-goal games in his next five starts before he gave up five goals to Utica on December 27. Vanecek remained hot for the first half of January, but slumped in the second half of the month.
Vanecek stole the show at the 2020 AHL All-Star Game, where he won MVP honors in the 3-on-3 tournament. February was another good month for Vanecek, which included two, one-goal games in six starts for the month.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) January 28, 2020
Vanecek started the month of March on fire, with a shutout and one-goal game (stopping 56 of 57 shots faced) in a back-to-back weekend set against the Wolf Pack in Hartford.
Vanecek finished 10th in the AHL in Save Percentage (.917) and 5th in the AHL in Goals-Against Average (2.26). It could be argued that Vanecek played the best of his career in the second half of the season.
Vanecek signed a three-year extension for $716,667 AAV on July 1, 2019. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-2022 season.
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