In the weeks leading up to the expansion draft, analysts’ mock drafts had either Capitals backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer or defenseman Nate Schmidt being selected by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. At the end of the NHL Awards show, Vegas general manager George McPhee picked Schmidt, leaving Grubauer on the only NHL team he’s ever known.
Earlier this week, Grubauer spoke about the nerve-racking experience with CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir.
“[It was] a little stressful,” Grubauer said to El-Bashir after an informal practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “We were on the phone every day or like every couple of minutes basically.”
For most of the season, nobody really knew what direction the Golden Knights would go in with most of their picks. In March, ESPN analysts unanimously predicted the Golden Knights would take Grubi.
Grubauer ended up learning that Vegas general manager George McPhee choose Nate Schmidt about a day before the picks were revealed during the NHL’s award show.
“Whatever happened, happened,” Grubauer said. “Everybody was a little bit surprised. But I’m glad I got to stay here in Washington another year.”
A few weeks later, Grubauer agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million extension with the Caps. Last season, Grubauer was one of the best backs up in the league. In terms of goaltenders who played in at least 20 games, Grubauer finished second in goals-against average a(2.04) and tied for fourth in save percentage (.926).
Grubauer is now training at Kettler for a few weeks with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish and hopes to improve on his 2016-17 season. His goal is to be a starter in the future.
“Just be patient, work really hard and be successful out there, be ready to go every time,” Grubauer said on the upcoming season. “I want to be ready to follow where I left off last year, keep improving and working hard, get better every day, and we’ll see what will happen.”
Photo: Amanda Bowen
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