Vanecek played in 32 games for the South Carolina Stingrays, the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate, last year, posting four shutouts, a 2.03 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. He’s projected to spend this season in the American Hockey League, a job he’ll have to solidify in training camp. Vanecek “took a puck in a bad spot” in practice Saturday and was walking with a slight limp after, but there was no “structural damage” and Vanecek practiced fully Sunday, Reirden said.
Vanecek and fellow goaltending prospect Adam Carlson both had shaky showings in the four-team rookie tournament in South Florida last week. Vanecek allowed nine goals in about 120 minutes of play across three games, and Carlson allowed nine in 60 minutes across two games.
“At the end of the day, it’s just the start; it’s not the finish,” Korn said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys not get out of the gates well and have pretty good NHL careers. So it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t the way we wanted it, but it gives us something to work on. It gives us a clearer view of where they may be at this moment, and it gives us a better road map.”
With Washington goaltenders Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer still competing at the World Cup, both of their teams advancing to the tournament’s final, the organization added Drew MacIntyre to the training-camp roster on a paid tryout contract to have enough goaltenders (six) for three groups of players in practices. He’ll back up Vanecek on Monday night. The Capitals play at Montreal on Tuesday night, and goaltender Joe Cannata, an offseason signing expected to be the top goaltender for the Hershey Bears this season, could play in that game.
“Vanecek was going to be getting some games regardless, and I think now it’s just a little bit of a bigger opportunity for him,” Reirden said. “He’s worked hard for the last few years, and it’s time to reward him and see how he does. We’re going to put him in a situation and see how it goes, and then we’ll move forward from there. He’s put a lot of time and effort into changing his body off the ice and how he plays the game, and now we need to get him into an NHL game and evaluate from there.”
Washington will be lacking in experience against the Hurricanes, something that’s to be expected with so many players just now returning from playing in the World Cup. The organization’s 2016 first-round pick, defenseman Lucas Johansen, will also be getting into his first NHL exhibition game, likely to be paired with Taylor Chorney. The rosters for Monday’s game: