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Tomas Vokoun Signs Bargain Basement Deal with Capitals

Vokoun Tomas Vokoun won't be with the Panthers this season but that doesn't mean he won't be around.

Vokoun, who spent the past four years in Florida, signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with Southeast Division rival Washington on Saturday.

The Panthers and Capitals play six times this season, the first meeting coming on Oct. 18 at Verizon Center. Vokoun's return to South Florida will come on Dec. 5.

Getting Vokoun for this kind of coin is the steal of the free agent weekend so far.

“We are excited to add an elite veteran goaltender to the Capitals,” Caps GM George McPhee said. “We now have a nice blend of talent, depth, experience and youth in the goaltending position.”

The Panthers said they would have given Vokoun as long as a three-year deal, likely in the neighborhood of $3 million per season. Vokoun turned down the Panthers final offers on Thursday and Friday with the thought that he would see what was out there.

Unfortunately for Vokoun, things dried up quick.

We had thought Tampa Bay might be a nice destination for Vokoun. The Lightning decided to give Dwayne (yes, I originally spelled it Dwyane) Roloson another shot in net.

Vokouncelebrate Phoenix and Colorado were thought to be Vokoun's other prime destinations, but the Coyotes signed former Lightning backstop Mike Smith and the Avs traded two top draft picks to Washington for Semyon Varlamov.

It's obvious Vokoun and his representation didn't see these moves coming as they were quickly left out in the cold. The Panthers told Vokoun's people that they were close on a deal with Jose Theodore. Vokoun rolled the dice. Then there was nothing left. There were even rumors that Vokoun's people came back to Florida after the Theodore signing. The Panthers said they had already moved on.

“I’m very excited to join the Washington Capitals organization,” Vokoun said in a statement. “It is a terrific team with a lot of talent. I look forward to doing everything I can for us to reach our ultimate goal in winning the Stanley Cup.”

Of course, being forced into a cheap contract could be a big chip for Vokoun to carry around on his shoulder this season. And really, $1.5 million isn't a bad consolation since he made almost $23 million in salary during his four years with the Panthers.

The positives are pretty good here. Washington is a great place to play and this team is still at the top of the division with the Lightning.

Vokoun's going to get a chance to win.

Vokounweiss Of course, we don't know who will start for the Caps as they have up-and-comer Michel Neuvirth. Vokoun could be a very good mentor for the 23-year-old as both are from the Czech Republic.

What if Vokoun turns out to be a difference maker for the Capitals and helps them get deeper into the playoffs than we're been used to?

Well, he only has a one-year deal.

Vokoun can always try this free agency thing again next July.