Zach Fucale: 2021 Annual Review And Forecast

Photo: NHL.com

We continue breaking-down the last 12 months of development for each of the Washington Capitals prospects with a review and forecast for goaltender, Zach Fucale.   (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)

VITALS

Zach Fucale, a 6’-2” 190lb netminder from Laval, Quebec, was originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round (#36 overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Fucale, 26, was signed by the Capitals to a one-year, two-way contract ($700,000/$75,000) on August 19, 2020, and signed a two-year, two-way contract for $750,000/$150,000 in 2021-22 and and $750,000/$160,000 in 2022-23 on March 28, 2021. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season.

CAREER

Back in 2013, Fucale was the first goalie taken in the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Entry Draft. There were high hopes for his future, but unfortunately for Fucale, he never lived up to those expectations and his career seemed to be at a crossroads.

The Washington Capitals threw him a lifeline this past off-season by signing him to one-year, two-way contract on August 19, 2020. The expectation was that Fucale would play with the Hershey Bears and provide the Capitals with additional organizational goalie depth. Washington nor Hershey had any idea what they were going to get out of Fucale. He hadn’t enjoyed much success in recent years and spent most of his time in the ECHL.

During the 2018-19 season, Fucale saw action in five AHL games with the Chicago Wolves, going 1-3 and posting a .903 save percentage. He spent the rest of the season with the Fort Wayne Comets of the ECHL. He won 20 games in Fort Wayne, but his numbers weren’t strong, with a 3.18 goals against average and an .894 save percentage.

The 2020-21 season was a different story for Fucale. He went 9-2-0 with a .932 save percentage and a 1.80 GAA in 11 games played, the best in the AHL.

2020-21 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS

The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports for Fucale prepared during the 2020-2021 season. (You can find all of our weekly and monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu).

FEBRUARY

Fucale attended Capitals training camp beginning on January 3. He was placed on waivers on January 11 as part of the Capitals’ roster-trimming necessary to meet the 23-player roster limit, required for all teams by 5:00 PM, January 12.

Fucale was officially added to the Capitals’ taxi squad on January 13.

TRENDING: SAME

MARCH

The Laval, Quebec native continued his strong play in March. He won three of the five games he started and gave up two goals or fewer in each of those victories. For the season, Fucale has given up more than two goals twice in seven appearances and he has won all five games in which he surrendered two or fewer goals.

On March 26, he turned away 30 of the 31 shots that Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sent his way, including 15 in the second period. He has a record of 5-2.

Fucale’s 1.71 goal-against average is the best in the AHL. He has a save percentage of .934. That is the third best percentage in the league. The Washington Capitals rewarded Fucale for his strong play by inking him to a two-year contract extension on March 28.

TRENDING: UP

APRIL

Fucale made three starts for the Bears in April and was victorious in all three. Fucale’ s best game of the month came on April 24 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He made 31 saves in a 3-1 Hershey win and was named the game’s number one star. His biggest stop came with 5:51 remaining in regulation. Jonathan Gruden was awarded a penalty shot. Fucale made a glove save on Gruden’s wrist shot to keep the game tied at one. Alex Alexeyev would score the game winning goal two minutes and 21 seconds later.

Fucale continues to lead the AHL with a 1.78 goals against average. His .933 save percentage is tied for second in the league and is the top percentage among goalies currently playing in the AHL.

TRENDING: UP

MAY

Due to time on the Washington taxi squad, Fucale only played in a single game for the Bears in May. The lone game was the division-clinching win over the Binghamton Devils on May 15. The Laval, Quebec native turned aside 23 of the 25 shots he faced as Hershey skated to a 3-2 victory.

Fucale ended the season with a 1.80 goals-against average, the best in the AHL. He also finished second in the league with a save percentage of .932. Fucale went 9-2 on the season with a shutout. He teamed with Pheonix Copley to earn the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award for the fewest goals given up per game in the AHL.

TRENDING – SAME

PLAYER FORECAST

Fucale was a pleasant surprise for the Capitals and Bears this season. He worked his way up from the ECHL and by the end of the season was on the Capitals taxi squad and was in serious discussion for playing time with the Capitals.

Fucale is difficult to project. His new found success is very encouraging, as the Capitals could be looking at him to compete for a roster spot this fall, should the Capitals lose a netminder in the expansion draft or as a result of offseason transactions. He will no doubt begin the season in Hershey, but if he continues playing at the levels of last season, look for him to garner serious consideration for playing time in Washington.

By Jon Sorensen

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2020-2021 Prospect Reviews And Forecasts
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Garin Bjorklund
Kody Clark
Martin Fehervary
Tobias Geisser
Shane Gersich
Bear Hughes
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby
Hendrix Lapierre
Brett Leason
Connor McMichael
Bobby Nardella
Garrett Pilon
Brian Pinho
Aliaksei Protas
Damien Riat
Joe Snively
Riley Sutter
Bogdan Trineyev

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Civil Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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