Could Vokoun be the backup Caps are seeking?

Could Vokoun be the backup Caps are seeking?
June 25, 2014, 4:00 pm
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The NHL’s free-agent shopping season is under way, even though it’s just a six-day window shopping spree.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. today, NHL teams can begin having conversations with players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on Tuesday, July 1.

Essentially, the six-day window gives general managers a chance to know what they would be paying for the players they’d like to sign next week. If the price is too high, they move on.

If the price is right, teams can trade for exclusive negotiating rights for that player, making it that much easier to sign him before the opening bell of free agency.

The Capitals are pursuing a backup goaltender and a top-four defenseman, either through a trade or free agency.

Among the UFA goalies expected to hit the market, Anders Lindback, 26, and Tomas Vokoun, 37, each have a history with new Capitals goaltending coach Mitch Korn, playing under him in Nashville.

Other UFAs that could interest the Caps are Chad Johnson, 28, Justin Peters, 27, and Thomas Greiss, 28. Veterans Martin Brodeur, 42, Jonas Hiller, 32, Evgeni Nabokov, 38, and Ilya Bryzgalov, 34, are also intriguing possibilities.

The Caps might also have an interest in acquiring 31-year-old veteran Peter Budaj, who has one year and $1.4 million remaining on his contract with the Montreal Camadiens.

In an interview on Tuesday evening, Korn said he has no specific preference on whether the Capitals should add an experienced backup like Vokoun or Brodeur for Braden Holtby, or someone who will challenge him for the No. 1 job.

“I don’t think I’m at liberty to start talking right now about who is going to fill out our roster and who’s not,” Korn said. “We’ve started to talk [about potential goalies], but we’ve got more work to do.

“I’ve seen it all ways. Two young guys, two old guys, a young and an old, an old and a young. It varies. I think it’s based on the people and based on the team.

“There’s a lot of different pieces to the puzzle you just have to play the hand your dealt and do the best you can. I’m not sure one is better than the other.”

Of the goalies set to become free agents, Vokoun is the only one with a history with both Korn and the Capitals.

When he was a young goalie with the Nashville Predators, Vokoun was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and Korn introduced him to one of his former goaltenders, Clint Malarchuk, who had played with the same disorder when he was coached by Korn in Buffalo.

“We hooked Clint and Tomas up together and it was life changing and career changing for Vokie and that was great,” Korn said.

“We’ve had a fantastic relationship and we also stay in touch.”

Vokoun, who will turn 38 on July 2, missed all of last season after a blood clot was discovered in his leg during training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He says he is completely recovered and is committed to playing in the NHL next season.

In 20 games as a backup to Marc-Andre Fleury in 2012-13, Vokoun went 13-4-0 with a 2.45 GAA and .919 save percentage. In one full season with the Capitals in 2011-12, Vokoun went 25-17-2 with a 2.51 GAA and .916 save percentage before a late-season groin injury opened the door for Holtby to land the No. 1 job in Washington.

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