While Caps fans anxiously await the signing of a restricted free agent goaltender of another name, the Capitals announced Monday they have re-signed Philipp Grubauer to a one-way, two-year, $1.5 million contract.
Grubauer will earn $650,000 during the 2015-16 season and $850,000 in 2016-17. The significance of the deal is that it is a one-way contract, which means Grubauer will be paid an NHL salary whether he plays for the Capitals or the AHL Hershey Bears.
If the Caps plan on promoting Grubauer to the NHL next season as a backup to Braden Holtby, and Monday’s signing indicates they do, the club will need to make a decision on backup Justin Peters, who has one year remaining on a one-way, two-year contract that will pay him $950,000 next season.
To make room for Grubauer the Caps could try to trade Peters prior to or during the NHL draft June 26-27 in Sunrise, Fla. Peters, 28, appeared in just 12 games for the Caps this season, recording a 3-6-1 record with a 3.25 GAA and .881 save percentage.
The Caps could also assign Peters to the Bears and use him in a backup role for Pheonix Copley, who is coming off a strong rookie season in the AHL with a 17-4-3 record, 2.17 GAA and .925 SP.
Meanwhile, negotiations between the Caps and Holtby are continuing. Holtby’s agent, David Kaye, said last week that he has had contracts talks with Caps general manager Brian MacLellan, who told ESPN.com that signing Holtby is a priority in light of the number of UFAs that remain unsigned by the Caps.
Grubauer, 23, has appeared in 20 NHL games with the Capitals, posting a 7-6-5 record with a 2.44 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Selected by the Capitals in the fourth round [112th overall] in the 2010 draft, Grubauer made his NHL playoff debut on April 17 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, stopping 18 shots to earn his first career playoff win.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Grubauer is the fifth rookie goaltender in Capitals history to pick up a win in his playoff debut the seventh rookie goaltender to start a playoff game in franchise history, joining Holtby (2011), Michal Neuvirth (2010), Semyon Varlamov (2008, 2009), Jim Carey (1994), Byron Dafoe (1993) and Bob Mason (1986). In addition, Grubauer is the first German-born goaltender to start a playoff game in NHL history.
Grubauer posted a 27-17-5 record with six shutouts, a 2.30 GAA and a .921 save percentage in 49 games with Hershey (AHL) this season. He ranked third in the AHL in wins, tied for third in shutouts, 10th in goals-against average and tied for 10th in save percentage. The Rosenheim, Germany, native was selected to represent the Eastern Conference at the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica, N.Y, and won the top goaltender award at the AHL All-Star Classic skills competition. Grubauer has registered a 55-39-9 record with 11 shutouts, a 2.37 GAA and a .919 save percentage in 105 career AHL games.