by PuckStopsHere on 04/29/12 at 12:13 AM ET
Tomas Vokoun has been one of the top goalies in the NHL for that last several years. Many people haven’t noticed how dominant his play had been because it occurred outside the media spotlight in Nashville and Florida. He became an unrestricted free agent last summer and many expected he would receive a big contract. When the offers didn’t come in as he expected, Vokoun offered himself to the Washington Capitals. He signed cheaply for $1.5 million for one year. The idea was that he would show he could win in the playoffs while on a top team like Washington. After all Washington was the defending East Conference champion but had not made it beyond the second round in the playoffs.
Vokoun’s season in Washington is nearing its end and he doesn’t look any closer to his big contract.
This season Vokoun posted some solid numbers. He had a .916 saves percentage and a 2.51 GAA. Although those are good numbers they are not all star calibre. In fact it was his lowest season saves percentage since prior to the lockout. Vokoun has been out with a severe groin tear since late March. He has missed all of the playoffs and likely will not be back again this season. Should he return the Washington Capitals will hesitate to offer him the starting goalie position because Braden Holtby played very well so far in the playoffs. Holtby is the single biggest reason that Washington won their first round playoff series. Thus Vokoun won’t get his chance to show he can win in the playoffs. He is unlikely to play in the playoffs at all.
Now that Vokoun is 35 years old, barring a significant change in the CBA, he will be subject to the restrictions of a 35+ contract. His salary cap hit will count against his team under all circumstances except longterm injury. This has prevented teams from offering larger contracts or longer terms to players in his position.
Other top goalies are likely available in trades. It looks like Roberto Luongo is on his way out in Vancouver and Tim Thomas could be available in Boston. These players both posted better saves percentages than Vokoun last season and have had more individual success over their careers. The teams in need of goalies may trade for them before Vokoun even hits the open market.
Tomas Vokoun is a good goalie. He will likely be a good pickup for the team that signs him. This is because his season in Washington has allowed him to slip below the radar a bit. He didn’t get the chance to backstop the Caps to a successful playoff run. He is now an extra part on the team should he play with them again. His season did nothing to help him get that big contract he was hoping for. Now he will likely wind up signing a mid-level shorter term contract as a free agent. That was exactly what was available to him last summer when he gambled that a year playing with Washington would increase his marketability. It hasn’t.
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