Vokoun is no longer welcome in Washington. Not because of his play (which has actually been just as excellent as his time in Florida), but simply because it's a numbers game. It should be pretty clear to everyone in the hockey world that Vokoun took a large salary cut to play for a potential cup-winning team instead of sticking it out with his bottom of the heap Florida Panthers. What is funny to see, is the complete 180 both of these teams have made since that signing. Washington has gone from perennial division or conference champions to barely making the playoffs. Florida has risen from the depths into a powerhouse, backed by some journeyman net-minders and a slew of signings and free agents.
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Back to the real story. Vokoun is gone from Washington without a doubt. He is a UFA this summer, and given his play this season (25-17-2 4SO .917 2.51) and his track record, I expect him to demand somewhere in the 3-4 million range (rather then the 1+ he is taking now), as well as a deal that takes him to the end of his career (3-5 years). With the unbelievable play of rookie Braden Holtby in this postseason and the strong 1B option in Neuvirth, there is simply no room for Vokoun.
Before I go on... Holtby is good. He posted a 10-2-2 record with a .934 and 1.79 with 2 shutouts for the Capitals in 2010-2011. this year he played 7 games going 4-2-1 with a .922 and 2.49 with a shutout. His numbers look great and he plays just as well on the ice. Oh and did I mention he's only 22 years old?
So where do the Leafs fit into this picture? Well, it comes down to the fact that Gustavsson will definitely walk this offseason (I guess I mean.. he will be walked out of the building). Either way, that will leave the team with James "The Real Deal" Reimer, or so says Brian Burke, who believes James is here to stay and will be our number 1 for years to come.
I highly doubt it. I jumped on the Optimus Reim bandwagon like the rest of us during last year's stretch. But Reimer does not look like that goalie anymore and has not looked that way all season (injuries aside, he had ample time to recover). Rynnas and Scrivens both have upside, and could very well be strong in the NHL but that won't be apparent for at least a year more.
Which leads us to Vokoun. Averaging .917 and 2.55 in his NHL career, he would be a strong candidate to fill the goaltending position. At 35 years old, he is approaching the end of his stay in the NHL, but as we've seen with most tenders, we can expect him in the league for at least a few more years. Some fans may not like the look of this option, stating that we need a true all-world goalie (see: Rinne, Lundqvist) or a Elite prospect (see: Cory Schneider) to truly make an impact in the league. You are wrong.
First of all, there is a small handful of goalies that are at the truly elite level. And literally none of those teams would part with them. Lundqvist isnt going anywhere, Rinne isnt. Price isnt. Thomas isnt. etc. etc. etc. Not sure what you expect from that. As for elite prospects. They (generally) would not be on the move either. Teams (like Vancouver) will continue to ride their #1 and groom their #2 until #1 retires or declines so that #2 can take over. Rinse and repeat. THAT is how strong goaltending emerges. And Vokoun (who was EXTREMELY under-exposed in Florida) IS an elite goaltender.
Vokoun Career - .917 2.55 48SO
Lundqvist Career - .920 2.27 43SO
Rinne Career - .921 2.35 25SO
His numbers are very comparable to these top guys. He would be a fantastic addition to our goaltending team, and would provide Reimer some breathing room to develop and take half the starts without the entire weight of Leafs nation on his shoulders. It would also allow Scrivens et al. to develop properly. Not be rushed. Not be pressured. Not be scrutinized. And if you need proof that it works, look at Holtby. Look at Schneider.
My offer to Vokoun would be 3 years 9.75 million. Average cap hit of 3.25 per year. This will add only about 2 million to the cap of the Leafs (since they will be relieved of gustavsson's 1.35 very shortly.) This solidifies the goaltending position for at least 2 seasons (until Reimers deal expires) and gives management a chance to develop their guys. Now that the goaltending is ready, its simply up to Burke to make those big deals we've come to expect to upgrade the offensive group and make this team a true competitor
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