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Monday, June 10, 2013

Season in Review: Michal Neuvirth

Michal Neuvirth would probably like a do over.  His 2013 campaign was not among his best efforts he has put forth in a Capitals uniform.  The 25 year old only appeared in 13 games for the Capitals, only recording four wins on the season.  His goals against average was nearly .20 more than Holtby’s at 2.74, and his save percentage a full percentage point behind Holtby’s at .910.  It was just an average year for Neuvy, with a few bumps in the road.

Remember the odd behavior towards the end of February and into the beginning of March?  Neuvy would be all set to start, and would have to sit out due to illness.  Now, I would never think that he would be faking an illness, but these were critical moments in the season where Holtby could have used a breather.  In the February instance where Grubauer had to be called up from Hershey, Neuvirth was penciled in to play during one of the back to back games, where the Capitals played Carolina and Philadelphia.  Holtby shut out Carolina in the first game in a winning effort, but had to be pulled in the second, a game which the Capitals lost.  In the second instance where Grubauer was again recalled, an inexperienced Grubauer filled in for Holtby, who had played had started 12 straight games.  The Capitals lost to the Islanders 5-2, and to the Rangers the very next day 4-1.  We could have really used Neuvirth.

Neuvirth didn’t really have any memorable wins, where he absolutely put the team on his shoulders and carried out a win.  He didn’t record a single shut out.  He was never stellar, and that is not a good thing when you are a goaltender in the National Hockey League.  Look at some of these goaltenders in the playoffs.  Quick certainly has that ability to take over games.  We know all too well Lundqvist doesn’t need too much help.  Tuuka Rask is certainly becoming a household name with his standout performances.  And, maybe worst news yet for Neuvy, Holtby is developing that same exact trait.

The Capitals are fortunate that they have two goalies that they can rely on to win games.  Not too many other teams in the NHL have as good as a goalie duo as Washington.  But, I’m concerned about Neuvirth.  As young as Neuvy started out in DC, each year was supposed to be a growing experience.  He was supposed to get better and better with each season.  But, one could argue that he may in fact be getting worse.  His role is slowly decreasing in Washington, as he is being pushed aside by Holtby and the buzz around Grubauer.

In April, Neuvirth signed a two year contract extension for a measly $5,000,000.  In the 2016 offseason, our three main goaltenders become free agents.  Holtby and Grubauer both become restricted free agents, while Neuvy is unrestricted.  Because of the youth of these goaltenders, accompanied by the length of each’s contract, I believe that one of them has to be moved within this season or the next.  It is obviously not Holtby.  So it boils down to Grubauer and Neuvirth.  You really couldn’t go wrong with either of them.  Neuvirth is experienced and proven, while Grubauer shows promise.  But, I think that the expendable one is Neuvy.  Grubauer can be a worthy backup to Holtby for a cheaper price, and there is no guarantee with that Neuvirth would even want to return to Washington with an unrestricted free agent status.  As time goes on, Neuvirth’s trade value will gradually decrease if he continues his trend of play.  So, Mr. McPhee either has to make a move soon, or Neuvy has to step it up and prove to all of DC that he is the number one goaltender in the nations capital.

Grade:  C

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