The Washington Capitals have signed goalie Pheonix Copley to a two-year extension worth $1.3 million.
Going into the 2017 NHL offseason, the Washington Capitals were expecting to lose backup goalie Philipp Gruabuer to the Vegas Golden Knights. Though they selected Nate Schmidt instead, Washington is still exploring trading their backup goalie. With the signing of Pheonix Copley, this might be happening sooner rather than later.
Copley signed a two-year deal worth $1.3 million total, giving him an annual cap hit of $650,000. The deal is a two-way deal in 2017-18 and a one-way deal in 2018-19.
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Copley, 25, posted a 26-11-3 record with one shutout, a 2.25 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 41 AHL games with the Chicago Wolves and Hershey Bears in 2016-17. The North Pole, Alaska, native ranked seventh in the AHL in goals-against average last season, tied for seventh in wins and tied for eighth in save percentage. Copley has posted a 58-31-6 record with seven shutouts, a 2.42 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage in 104 career AHL games with Hershey and Chicago.
This is an interesting deal for several reasons. First of all, Copley has proven he’s ready to compete for a job as an NHL backup. Washington likely doesn’t get him to sign the deal without some assurance that will happen. As long as Grubauer is around, Copley will always be the number three goalie. Maybe this means the Caps are more open to trading their backup goalie than they’re letting on?
Secondly, Washington likes Copley a lot. They showed this by re-acquiring him from the St. Louis Blues after sending him to them in the T.J. Oshie trade. So maybe the Capitals view Copley as a serious candidate to serve as Braden Holtby’s backup.