Saturday, July 2, 2011
Updated: July 3, 3:25 PM ET
Capitals sign Tomas Vokoun
ESPN.com news services
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals have signed free-agent goalie Tomas Vokoun to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million.
The move made Saturday was somewhat of a surprise, but Vokoun adds veteran insurance to a goalie situation that is focused on youngsters Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby.
Vokoun thought he would be a bigger catch on the free agent market. The two-time All-Star is tied for the best save percentage (.922) in the NHL since the 2005-06 season.
"Honestly I didn't have a whole lot of offers," Vokoun said Sunday. "The money side, it's not great, but the opportunity is unbelievable. Obviously it was a disappointing day for me, July 1. For whatever reason, I was basically in the bad spot and Washington came in."
Vokoun said the best offers came from his old team, the Florida Panthers, who proposed a two-year contract and a three-year deal.
But Washington, as Capitals general manager George McPhee noted, has "become one of those destination teams" that attracts players looking to win immediately.
"I never had a chance to play for a team like this," Vokoun said. "It came to me almost as a surprise."
McPhee had indicated Friday that he would be content to let the 23-year-old Neuvirth and the 21-year-old Holtby battle for the starting job next season.
"I don't think we anticipated being this fortunate," McPhee said Sunday. "This is a heck of a move for the organization. We thought we were done a couple of days ago. ... We've been telling other GMs and the media that we were done making offers because we thought we were."
Vokoun, 34, has played for the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Florida, spending the last four seasons with the Panthers. He was 22-28-5 with a 2.55 goals-against average in 57 games last season and is tied for the best save percentage (.922) in the NHL since the 2005-06 season
He also led the Czech national team to a gold medal at the 2010 world championships and has represented his county twice at the Olympics.
On Friday, the Capitals traded unhappy goaltender Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for two draft picks after reports surfaced that Varlamov was going to return to the KHL.
Vokoun's old team, the Panthers, signed Jose Theodore to a two-year deal early Friday, which seemed to close the door on a return to Florida for Vokoun, who turned down the Panthers' last offer Thursday. Other goaltending openings quickly closed with Mike Smith (Phoenix), Josh Harding (Minnesota), Brian Boucher (Carolina) and Peter Budaj (Montreal) also signing Friday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.