Throughout the coming weeks, CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Justin Peters
Age: 28 [turns 29 Aug. 30]
Ht/Wt: 6-1, 210
Goals-against Average: 3.25
Save Percentage: .881
Playoff games: None
Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 2-year, $1.9 million contract [2015-16 salary: $950,000]
Strengths: Even though he played in just 12 games and twice was passed over for Philipp Grubauer, Peters said working with goaltending coach Mitch Korn was a positive experience and one he can use as a foundation for next season. “Having the opportunity to work with Mitch this year, I had a lot of opportunity in practice,” Peters said. “Obviously, I didn’t play as much as I wanted to and things didn’t go the way I hoped, but at that same time I had a chance to work on my game a lot and tighten things up. I felt right until the end if I was asked to get in there I was going to be ready to do the job.”
Room for improvement: The Capitals clearly wanted and expected more from Peters this season. After playing in six of the Caps’ first 17 games, Peters saw the net just six more times over the final 65 games of the regular season and none in the playoffs. In fact, of the 12 games Peters played this season, he started and finished only nine of them, going 3-5-1. By early February it became clear that Barry Trotz’s confidence in Peters was waning. On Feb. 6, with the Caps wanting to give Braden Holtby a rest after he appeared in 33 of 35 games, Philipp Grubauer was summoned from the Hershey Bears to face the Anaheim Ducks, even though Peters was healthy. Grubauer responded with a 3-2 shootout victory. Peters suffered a similar fate on April 17 when Grubauer was recalled from the Bears to face the Islanders in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals when Holtby fell ill. Again, Grubauer delivered with a 4-3 win to even the series and served as a backup for the remainder of the series.
Memorable Moment: On Feb. 15, with the Caps playing the final game of a three-game California trip attended by players’ fathers, mentors and brothers, Peters was given a start against the Anaheim Ducks. The Caps were coming off a 3-1 loss the night before in Los Angeles and were hoping for a way to salvage the trip, which began with a 5-4 win in San Jose. Peters stopped 30 of 33 shots and received a pair of goals from Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky to earn a 5-3 victory and high fives for his father. It proved to be his last win of the season.
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Quotable: “As a competitor, you want to play. I was explained the situation. It is what it is, right? For me, I obviously didn’t agree with the situation, but it’s out of my control, so I come back to work today.” - Peters on being replaced by Grubauer on Feb. 6
2015-16 Expectations: Now that Philipp Grubauer has agreed to a two-year, one-way contract worth $1.5 million Peters almost certainly will begin next season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL, unless he is traded to another NHL team. Peters said he talked with Mitch Korn about working on his range of motion during the summer and “taking my game to the next level.” In all likelihood, Peters will serve as a backup to goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley in Hershey while making an NHL salary of $950,000.