The Washington Capitals announced Sunday morning that they have re-assigned goaltenders Vitek Vanecek (conditioning loan) and Pheonix Copley to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL). Vanecek has been sidelined since February 1 when he was injured (upper-body) in the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Bears host the Utica Comets this evening at 5:00 PM at Giant Center. It’s likely Vanecek will get the start, then possibly return to Washington in time to backup Ilya Samsonov Monday night against the Maple Leafs.
Vanecek, 26, has posted a record of 10-6-5, with two shutouts, a 2.39 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage this season. In 24 games, the 6’2″, 184-pound goaltender has a 1.75 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage at five-on-five. The Havlickuv Brod, Czech Republic, native has the lowest goals-against average and rebounds allowed per 60 minutes of play (1.86) and the fourth highest save percentage in the NHL at five-on-five among goaltenders with at least 15 games played.
In 61 career games with the Capitals, Vanecek is 31-16-9 with four shutouts, a 2.58 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
The Capitals selected Vanecek with their second-round pick, 39th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft. Washington re-acquired Vanecek from the Seattle Kraken for a second-round draft pick (originally acquired from the Winnipeg Jets) in the 2023 NHL Draft on July 28, 2021.
Copley, 30, made 21 saves in his season debut on Feb. 2 against the Edmonton Oilers and has appeared in two games for Washington this season. In 31 career NHL games, the North Pole, Alaska native is 16-9-3 with one shutout, a 2.98 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.
In 22 games with the Bears this season, Copley has posted a record of 13-7-2 with two shutouts, a 2.43 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage, leading the Bears in each respective category.