Goaltender Vitek Vanecek, picked this June in the second round of the 2014 NHL draft, has signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Washington Capitals, the team announced Tuesday.
With a desire to secure a netminder after drafting winger Jakub Vrana 13th overall, the Capitals traded up to nab Vanecek, responding a an early run of goaltenders — three were taken between No. 34 and No. 37. The Caps shipped their No. 44 and No. 74 picks to Buffalo for the No. 39 pick. Like Vrana, Vanecek hails from the Czech Republic and participated at Washington’s development camp last week, one of four goalies in attendance.
The 18-year-old spent last season with Liberec of his home country’s under-20 league, posting a 2.64 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage over 39 games. Vanecek also went 4-2 at the under-18 world junior championships, teaming up with Vrana as the Czechs won a silver medal. It seems likely that Vanecek will return to the Czech Republic for the upcoming season, where is he currently listed on the roster for HC Benatky, a second-tier Czech club, though the Capitals could want him to begin the assimilation process to North American hockey. The folks at Russian Machine Never Breaks posted a solid rundown of his options, which excludes the CHL given its ban on import goalies.
Vanecek becomes the first of Washington’s six draft picks to sign. Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reported that Vanecek’s contract holds an average cap hit of $776,000, while CapGeek pegged the number for his two-way deal at $775,833. His NHL salary, per CapGeek, would increase steadily over the course of his deal, while the AHL salary would hold firm at $70,000.