Philipp Grubauer is the last of the Washington Capitals restricted free agents (RFA) to sign with the team. And it is the shortest of all terms – just one year for $1.5 million. His previous contract was for two years $1,500,000 – an average of $750,000 a year. Although this is a bump in salary for Grubi, it also signals the Caps unwillingness to offer him a long-term commitment. Reports suggest that Philipp did not want to enter arbitration and run the risk of a two-year contract. Because of his age, he will become an RFA at the end of this term and have to go through the negotiating process all over next summer.
An RFA is a player under the age of 27 who has played less than seven years in the NHl. Grubauer will be 26 at the end of the 2017/18 season. As an RFA the Caps could extend a qualifying offer. An RFA can enter into salary arbitration if he and the team can not come to terms by 5 July. A player entering arbitration is offered either a one- or two-year contract.
In contrast, an unrestricted free agent (UFA) has more then seven years in the NHL or is 27 years and older by 30 June. UFA’s can negotiate a new contract with any team, not just their home team. RFA’s must be signed by 1 December in order to play in the current season.
Grubauer gave one of his best performances during the 2016/17 season – stepping in at times when Braden Holtby had a hiccup in his performance. Coach Trotz did his best to get as much playing time as he could for the back-up goaltender. In the past two seasons he has been between the pipes for 22 and 24 games. He even had a slightly better save percentage then Holby (.926 over .925).
Grubauer continues to prove how valuable he is to the Capitals. Although Holtby will undoubtedly see more time in the net; Grubi is the one solid that the Caps can count on, should anything happen to Holts. Additionally, there is Pheonix Copley of the Hershey Bears sitting in the number three spot, should it ever get to that.
Meanwhile, the Capitals will continue to look for goalies to put in the pipeline over the next few years. We had a chance to see some of the prospects during the Capitals development camp earlier this month. Read about them here.