The Washington Capitals evidently liked what they saw out of Pheonix Copley‘s rookie season, as they extended him through the 2021-22 season, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the future of Caps goaltending.
|776||shots faced, all strengths|
|74||goals allowed, all strengths|
|0.922||5-on-5 expected save percentage|
|0.915||5-on-5 save percentage|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the season. A short description of each chart:
Philipp Grubauer’s exit last summer put the Caps in a risky situation. Their number-one goalie had a big down year last season, and the team relied quite a bit on their backup to deal with increasing opponent offense rates. Enter Copley, who, in his first full season at age 27, looked equal to a very tough job. And while Copley didn’t reach the kinda/sorta starter heights that Grubauer did, he did what was asked: face an escalating number of pucks and keep most of them out of the net.
The escalating part is the important part. After being a stingy defensive team a couple years ago, the Caps have been making life harder on their goalies of late. Of the 56 goalies who played more than 1000 minutes of five-on-five play, Copley had the 13th hardest expected-goals rate and the 16th most high-danger shots faced by rate. That’s my way of saying I’ve got a lot of patience for Washington goalies, even when they falter, which Copley certainly did a few times. Copley allowed seven goals to the Predators in January, six goals to the Devils in October, and five to the Rangers in February — the Caps won that last one anyway thanks to buckwild scoring support.
But every goalie has a few blowouts, and Washington evidently liked their backup goalie. At the start of February, the Caps extended Copley for three more years at just over $1 million a year. And here’s where stuff gets interesting. Braden Holtby’s contract expires next summer at age 30. And down on the farm is Russian stud Ilya Samsonov, whose entry-level deal has him locked up through 2022. The Caps may be imagining what a post-Holtby future looks like, and Copley could fill a couple roles there: as the team’s number-one goalie through Ovechkin’s waning years, as a backup for a possible new superstar, or as bait for the next expansion draft. I think all three options are equally likely right now, and the person with the most control over it is the player himself.
There’s not a tonnnn of RMNB stuff about Washington’s back-up rookie goalie, but here we go.
Tell me Copley’s fortune. Does he finish his deal in DC? Can he snag more than 30 games next season? Can he compete for a number-one spot?
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
Read more: Japers Rink
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