The Washington Capitals are the latest team to hand out a three-year extension to a backup goaltender, this time signing Pheonix Copley to a $3.3MM deal. The contract will ensure that Copley fulfills the Capitals expansion draft requirements, while also giving Braden Holtby a reliable backup for a reasonably low price. TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reports that the deal breaks down as follows:
2019-20: $750K salary, $300K signing bonus
2020-21: $750K salary
2021-22: $1.5MM salary
Like Alex Stalock and Casey DeSmith who both signed three-year deals earlier this season, Copley happened to be in a perfect situation to secure his future. The 27-year old netminder had just two games of NHL experience under his belt prior to this season but has performed admirably behind Holtby in Washington. While his .903 save percentage could be better, the former Michigan Tech goaltender has gone 10-5-3 this year and shown that he can at least handle the role at the NHL level.
Still, three years is obviously a long time to commit to a goaltender who is relatively unproven. In fact, it’s not clear what the Capitals situation will even be in the near future given that Holtby’s current contract expires after the 2019-20 season. The team has young stud prospect Ilya Samsonov in the minor leagues developing and will be only able to protect one goaltender in the expansion draft. Holtby has obviously done enough to prove his worth in the NHL but is currently carrying a .907 save percentage on the year, the same number he finished last season with.
Whether the Capitals decide to extend Holtby or move on and hand over the crease to Samsonov at some point, Copley will have some certainty in his place in the league. His $1.1MM cap hit will also be almost entirely buried if he is sent to the minor leagues at any point over the next two seasons. In 2021-22, it would come completely off the books.