#2 Number one goalie spot up for grabs
Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov are back this season with Vanecek getting the nod in goal tonight for the first preseason game. Samsonov is only 24 years old while Vanecek is 25 and both are expected to be the youngest average NHL goaltending duo this season. Both have over 35 games of NHL experience with Samsonov playing in 45 games and Vanecek playing in 37. Both are ready for that next step forward.
Vanecek makes a return to the Caps after spending a week with the Seattle Kraken, though he never actually made it to Seattle. He was taken by them in the expansion draft before the Capitals reacquired him in a trade. They only lost a 2023 second rounder that was originally owned by the Winnipeg Jets in the Brenden Dillon trade.
Vanecek finished with a 21-10-4 record with two shutouts, a 2.69 goals against average and a .908 save percentage in his rookie season. With 21 wins, Vanecek joined Michal Neuvirth (27 wins in 2010-11) as the only rookie goaltenders in franchise history to record at least 21 wins in a season. His 21 wins led all rookie goaltenders. It also marked the second consecutive season the Caps had a rookie goaltender finish in the top two in wins. Ilya Samsonov won 16 games the previous season.