Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Capitals' Goaltending Situation Clears Up

While Brent Johnson was the odd man out among the Caps' netminders following an injury down the stretch, he heads north to join the Pittsburgh Penguins next season, and leaving the likelihood that Jose Theodore and Simeon Varlamov will be the two netminders in Boston Opening night.

Johnson, when healthy, was the most effective of the Caps' goaltenders during the regular season, posting a 12-6-2 record and a 2.81 goals-against, but he was bothered all season by a hip injury that forced him to miss back-to-back games. He also only played in three games for Washington during the calendar year 2009, last appearing on February 1 before he was sidelined for the rest of the campaign.

So, with him looking to win the Penguins' backup role, it would be unlikely the Capitals would carry a pair of rookies in net, so Theodore looks like he will be challenging Varlamov for the starting role in camp, with Michal Neuvirth ready to step in if either falters.

With one year left on his contract, Theodore's contract would be potentially easier to move as the season progresses if the team so chooses, and he also might perform more consistently in a contract year with Washington. In his own right, Varlamov certainly was terrific in the postseason, but now will get his chance to prove he belongs as a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL as he also competes for a spot on the Russian Olympic team.

And Neuvirth, after an impressive run to the Calder Cup with Hershey, likely will be the Bears' Opening Night starter with potential to move up should Theodore be dealt before the deadline or the begininng of the 2010-11 season.

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