Washington Capitals Grades: Vitek Vanecek 2021 Report Card

Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Vitek Vanecek is still a raw talent. This season we saw glimpses of a potential long term first string goalie in the NHL. Vitek won 21 of his 36 starts this season including two shutouts.

At 6’2, Vanecek has shown the potential to be an incredible goalie some nights while looking like a goalie who should be a backup at best on other occasions. Putting up a 2.69GAA and .908 SA in the regular season that included a 0.66 goals saved above average, which are very respectful numbers for a rookie, enough to even earn him a rookie of the month honor in the month of January. While he was great at times, he had a couple cold streaks including a four game losing streak to start February, where he was even yanked from the game once.

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Vanecek was not even mentioned before the 20-21 season as a potential starter for us, when they had a legend in Henrik Lundqvist and a 1st rounder in Ilya Samsonov, but after several injuries to goalies, Vitek was given chances to earn some time in between the posts and eventually put a fight to be the starter.

With only $716k in cap hit, Vanecek was a huge part to the Caps battling against a strong east division, winning a large portion of his games. Looking at his games against other East division teams that made the playoffs, Vanecek went 9-9 with one shutout, which makes up for 8 of his 11 losses.

Vanecek was very solid in many aspects, giving up less then 1% of his goals from the point to the top of the circle. However, 88% of all goals against him were either scored in tight or in the slot, showing a bit of weakness in scrums and on his rebound control. To give perspective, the rest of the league on average gives up 11% of goals from the point and approximately 52% of goals from in front of the net or in the slot.

Overall, I believe Vanecek has certainly not earned the starting spot in Washington but will definitely have a chance to have a serious battle with Samsonov and Lundqvist to start the season between the pipes for the Capitals, and this time not just because of injuries.

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Grade A: Vanecek had a solid first season for the Washington Capitals and the team will have a tough decision to make with the expansion draft looming.