Long before he suffered a torn groin muscle in the regular season and Braden Holtby stepped up as the Capitals’ starting goaltender in the playoffs, Tomas Vokoun knew that he likely wouldn’t be returning to Washington.
The veteran netminder signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Capitals last July when he faced a lack of interest in his services as a free agent. At the time it seemed like a good fit and a steal for Washington, but over the course of the season it was clear it wasn’t always an ideal arrangement for both sides.
So it wasn’t surprising when Vokoun, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, said Monday that he didn’t see a future with the Capitals.
“I wasn’t planning on being back here anyways,” said Vokoun, who added that he was happy to see Holtby to play well. “For me, it was never intention to be here more than a year. For me, it’s more disappointing about how it went and obviously getting hurt and not having the chance to play in playoffs. That’s what I regret more than worrying about what’s going to be next year. I was looking at it as a one-year thing and I’m sure that’s how it’s gonna be.”
Given that both Holtby and Michal Neuvirth are under contract through the 2012-13 season, it appears that the Capitals depth chart in net at the NHL level is set, even if General Manager George McPhee isn’t divulging details about his offseason plans.
“We’re pretty deep in that position in net,” McPhee said. “But we haven’t talked to Tomas yet.
Vokoun, 35, said he has recovered completely from the groin injury that sidelined him at the end of the regular season and through the playoffs. He finished the season with a 25-17-2 record, .917 save percentage and 2.51 goals-against average.
“Healthy, it’s important regardless of hockey,” Vokoun said. “But it’s nice to be, obviously, healthy and feel if whatever happens you can play and be effective there and be able to play without pain.”
Recent reports out of the Czech Republic and Russia suggested that Vokoun may join the rebuilding Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team in the KHL. His best friend, Josef Vasicek, died in the Lokomitiv plane crash last September that devastated the hockey community. However, Vokoun’s agent Allan Walsh commented on Twitter that those reports were “premature” and that the netminder “prefers to play in the NHL next season.”
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