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Capitals Welcome Vanecek Back To D.C. With Jumbotron Tribute

The Washington Capitals took a minute to recognize goaltender Vitek Vanecek in his return to D.C.



WASHINGTON — At the first media timeout of Thursday's game against the New Jersey Devils, the Washington Capitals welcomed back goaltender Vitek Vanecek with a jumbotron tribute.

The Czech netminder, who was drafted by Washington in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft, was all smiles waved to fans from the bench while receiving a nice applause from the crowd of over 18,000. He is backing up in his first game back in the District, sitting second chair to Akira Schmid.

Vanecek spent years in the Capitals organization before making his NHL debut in the 2020-21 season, winning a roster spot with Henrik Lundqvist unable to play due to a heart condition. In his rookie season, Vanecek shared the net with Ilya Samsonov, and the two would work in tandem again in 2021-22. Through 79 career games in D.C., the 27-year-old went 41-22-10 with a .908 save percentage and 2.68 GAA.

Washington traded Vanecek to the Devils for picks during the 2023 NHL Draft as the team elected for a goaltending overhaul in the offseason. The Capitals also let Ilya Samsonov walk over the summer, and he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs. Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren were then brought in to take over the crease.

Vanecek got off to a strong start with New Jersey and holds an impressive 27-7-3 record. However, he has struggled of late. Overall, he has a .907 save percentage and 2.55 GAA.

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